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The level of need in the population

Background papers: children :: Dental health in children :: The level of need in the population

The level of dental need may be estimated from national dental health surveys of 5- and 12-year-olds carried out in 2007/08 and 2008/09 respectively.

While most children were free of tooth decay, some 23.5% of 5-year-olds and 23.6% of 12-year-olds in Kent and Medway were estimated to have experience of tooth decay (Figure 1).

Figure 1 Prevalence of tooth decay experience in 5- and 12-year-olds in Kent/Medway (Average for 5-year-olds=23.5% and for 12-year-olds=23.6%). (Source: NHS Dental Epidemiology Programme for England: Oral Health Survey of 5- and 12-year olds in 2007/08 and 2008/09)
Figure 1 Prevalence of tooth decay experience in 5- and 12-year-olds in Kent/Medway (Average for 5-year-olds=23.5% and for 12-year-olds=23.6%). (Source: NHS Dental Epidemiology Programme for England: Oral Health Survey of 5- and 12-year olds in 2007/08 and 2008/09)

Of the 229 (7.6%) Medway five-year-olds examined, 21.6% were estimated to have at least one decayed, missing or filled deciduous (or milk) tooth (dmft), compared to 30.9% for English five-year-olds (Figure 2). For the first time, positive consent was sought for dental examination, resulting in lower participation from those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Therefore comparison with previous survey results would not be appropriate.

Of those with experience of tooth decay, an average 2.8 decayed, missing and filled deciduous teeth (dmft) was reported for 5-year-olds and an average 2.0 decayed, missing and filled permanent teeth (DMFT) for 12-year-olds (Figure 2). Although lower in prevalence and severity when compared to the regional (South East Coast SHA) and national average, geographical variations in the experience of tooth decay within Kent and Medway are clearly evident.