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News / June 17, 2009

Postponed adult dental health survey takes place

by Guy Hiscott

The National Adult Dental Health Survey – postponed from last year – gets underway in Northern Ireland in September.

The survey had taken place every 10 years since 1968 with the aim of reflecting the state of the adult nation’s oral health and is conducted by the Office of National Statistics and some dental schools.

But 2008’s failed to take place due to Government ‘departmental reorganisation’.

Around 9,000 adults in Northern Ireland, England and Wales will have their teeth examined by 80 NHS dentists as part of the survey. 

The research, carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), will investigate attitudes to dental hygiene and treatment. 

Combined with results from the earlier surveys this ‘snapshot’ will identify trends in dental health and in ways people seek treatment.

The survey is funded by the Northern Irish, English and Welsh Health Departments. 

The research is being conducted by ONS in partnership with the Northern Ireland Statistical Research Agency and the National Centre for Social Research in England and Wales. 

Each person will be interviewed about attitudes to dental care and will then be invited to take part in a 20-minute dental examination carried out in their own home by an NHS dentist. 

ONS has teamed up with five university dental centres across the UK – Dundee, Newcastle, Birmingham, Cardiff and University College London – who in turn have recruited NHS dentists to examine the nation’s mouths. 

Dennis Roberts, from ONS, said: ‘The Adult Dental Health Survey has an important role to play in establishing how patterns of tooth retention and dental hygiene have changed since the last survey was carried out in 1998. It’s a vital snapshot that will help NHS dentists improve treatment in years to come.’

The schools of dentistry also helped to devise questions and organise training to ensure dentists and interviewers follow the same procedures on each occasion. 

Adults taking part are randomly sampled by ONS. They must be over the age of 16 – and must possess at least one natural tooth to participate.