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National Indicator: Children's Dental Health

up Improve children's dental health

Indicator Measure
Percentage of children in P1 with no signs of tooth decay

Current Status
Over the past decade there has been an increase in the percentage of Primary 1 children with no obvious tooth decay. Latest figures for 2015/16 show 69.4% of Scottish children in Primary 1 have no obvious dental decay, compared with 54.1% in 2005/06, which is the baseline year.

The proportion of P1 children with no obvious decay experience,

Source: National Dental Inspection Program
The data for this chart is available at the bottom of the page.

Last Update: 7 November 2016
Next Update: October 2018

Improve children's dental health

Why is this National Indicator important?
What will influence this National Indicator?
What is the Government's role?
How is Scotland performing?
What more do we know about this National Indicator?
Criteria for recent change
Further information
Who are our partners?
Related Strategic Objectives

Why is this National Indicator important?

Dental decay is almost totally preventable but is the single most common reason to admit children to hospital in Scotland and accounts for significant pain and discomfort to the child and to absence from school. Dental health is also widely used as an 'indicative measure' of children's general health. This is because it reflects a key 'outcome' of good parental care during the pre-school period.

What will influence this National Indicator?

We can reduce dental disease among children by getting them to eat and drink less sugary food, less often. In addition, the use of fluoride will strengthen the tooth surface and increase its resistance to attack. Fluoride can be added to the tooth surface by using fluoride toothpaste and by the application of fluoride varnish. If children see their dentist for regular check-ups, and access preventive care there is a better chance that they will avoid dental disease.

What is the Government's role?

More than 90,000 nursery school children currently take part in supervised tooth-brushing programmes. The Government has also directed the distribution of toothpaste and brushes during the first year of life at nursery, and in the first year of primary school. Both of these initiatives are likely to have an influence on the levels of dental decay at P1; as will the use of fluoride varnish to children's teeth in selected areas. This needs to be pursued jointly by the NHS and local authorities.

The supervised tooth brushing schemes have been extended to primary schools, where there is a particular need, to meet the target for primary 7 children. The improvement in oral health is being further enhanced by the 'Childsmile' school-based preventive dental service, which was launched in December 2007. The Childsmile programmes (core, nursery, school and practice) will be ongoing, recognising the need to maintain our efforts to tackle the problem that affects children, particularly those living in deprived areas.

How is Scotland performing?

Over the past decade there has been an increasing trend in the percentage of Primary 1 children with no obvious decay experience. Latest figures for school year 2015/16 show 69.4% of Scottish children in Primary 1 have no obvious dental decay. This is an improvement compared with the estimate of 68.2% reported in 2013/14.

The data is available at the bottom of the page.

What more do we know about this National Indicator?

This indicator is a direct measure based on detailed inspection of a sample of children. Around 20% of the population of P1 children in Local Authority funded schools receive a detailed dental inspection every second year.

There has been an improvement over time in the proportion of Primary 1 children with no obvious dental decay, in all areas of Scotland. However, there is a large difference between the most and least deprived areas of Scotland. In 2015/16, 55% of Primary 1 children in the most deprived areas had no obvious decay compared with 82% of Primary 1 children in the least deprived areas.

The data is available at the bottom of the page.

Criteria for recent change

Any difference within +/- 1 percentage point of the previous inspection suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change. An increase of 1 percentage point or more suggests the position is improving; whereas a decrease of 1 percentage point or more suggests the position is worsening. This assessment of change is conditional on using data from the biennial survey.

Further Information

For information on general methodological approach, please click here.

Scotland Performs Technical Note

Who are our partners?

Local Authorities

NHS Scotland

Nursery and Primary Schools

Related Strategic Objectives

Healthier

Smarter

View National Indicator Data

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Title:Improve children's dental health
Description:Improve children's dental health
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