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Within: Oral Health

Related to: Oral Health of Children, Oral Health of AdultsIll Health and Disability, Diet and Malnutrition, NHS Health Checks, Patient Experience, Older People, Child Health and Wellbeing Survey , Inequalities

Key Facts:

  • People from more deprived groups suffer from more severe decay, more urgent dental problems and are more likely to have no teeth at all. 

What does the data say?

There have been dramatic improvements in oral health over the last 50 years with the majority of adults holding onto their teeth for life.  The percentage of adults in England with no teeth fell from 37% in 1968 to 6% in 2009. 1

While oral health has improved over the past few decades, it is not all good news. National surveys show stark inequalities in the experience of tooth decay and its severity.  Decay that remains unrestored is becoming increasingly concentrated in a minority of the population.2

Population averages for adults hide oral health inequalities and a ‘social gradient’ exists whereby higher levels of disease can be seen at each lower level of the social hierarchy. Data shows that adults from the most deprived areas, in most age groups, are more likely to have:

  • Decayed teeth
  • No teeth
  • Gum disease
  • Oral cancer
  • Suffer from urgent conditions 3

People who never go to the dentist, or who only attend when they have trouble, are more likely to experience multiple decayed teeth. People from lower socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to attend a dentist regularly.4 In the last national survey of oral health in adults, 7% of the population had badly diseased and broken down teeth caused by extensive decay and levels of decay were found to be significantly higher in people from routine and manual occupational groups.