The National Dental Epidemiology Programme (NDEP) survey took place in the 2022-23 academic year, with 53,073 children linked to geographical areas and included in the final analysis.
The survey found wide variation in both the prevalence and severity of tooth decay experienced by geographical area. Schoolchildren living in Yorkshire and The Humber were more likely to have experienced tooth decay (23 per cent) than children living in the South West, who were less likely to have experienced tooth decay (12 per cent).
Responding to the findings, Charlotte Eckhardt, dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said, “It is really upsetting to know that in some areas, up to 23 per cent of children in Year 6 have experienced tooth decay. Tooth decay is largely preventable and, therefore, avoidable through reduced sugar consumption, regular tooth brushing and visits to the dentist.
“Part of the problem will be access to dentists. Although NHS dental care is free for all under-18s, we know that in some areas, parents and carers are struggling to get appointments for their children. The survey also highlights health inequalities, with children living in the most deprived areas of the country more than twice as likely to have experienced tooth decay (23 per cent) as those living in the least deprived areas (10 per cent).
“The Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of England strongly supports the development of new targeted fluoridation schemes. It is particularly key for reducing health inequalities.”