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Adult Dental Health Survey

What is this survey?

The survey collected information about the condition of adults' teeth, dental hygiene, and investigated dental experiences, knowledge of and attitudes towards dental care and oral hygiene.

Why did we do this survey?

Every ten years since 1968, a survey of the dental health of adults has been carried out. The Adult Dental Health Survey provides information to underpin and help plan dental health care for the whole UK although the 2009 survey did not include Scotland. The surveys help the NHS understand how the dental health of adults is changing.

People from all backgrounds take part in the survey, whether or not they go to the dentist, so that we get an accurate picture of the dental health of adults in each country.

Who did the survey?

The survey was carried out by the Office for National Statistics on behalf of NHS Digital with funding provided by the Department of Health for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Office for National Statistics (ONS), worked in collaboration with the NatCen Social Research (NatCen), Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), and a team of dental experts from the Universities of Birmingham, Cardiff, Newcastle, Dundee and University College London and NHS dentists.

How did we choose who took part?

Addresses were chosen at random to make sure we get a truly representative picture of everyone living in each country. We interviewed adults from all backgrounds to get an accurate picture.

What did taking part involve?

A letter was sent to the home of the respondent and an interviewer called to arrange an interview at a time that suited the respondent. The interview itself was really relaxed - there was nothing to prepare and any questions the respondent didn't want to answer was skipped.

Following the interview there was the option to consent to a short dental check-up by a dentist who visited the respondent's home. The dentist did not carry out any treatment and just looked at the teeth. Respondents were sent some basic feedback by letter about the check-up. The survey check-up was not intended as a replacement for any dental check-ups or treatment the respondent would normally have and were encouraged to still go to see their own dentist as usual.

What data items were collected?

The survey and check-up covered geographies, sex, age, ethnic group, household details, general health and dental health, experience of dental service and treatment, dental examination results (tooth and gum condition).

What happened to the answers?

The answers from the questionnaire were put together with the answers collected from thousands of other people across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The answers will always be completely confidential and we will make sure that no-one can be identified from the results we published.

The results collected are used for research purposes only and respondents will never receive any junk mail as a result of speaking to us. We never pass on your details to other organisations for commercial purposes.

Latest findings and report

A full anonymised data set of this series of surveys is available in the UK Data Services Catalogue

The latest survey, 2009 was published as a National Statistic on 24 March 2011.

Read the 2009 survey report.

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