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News / December 8, 2010

Dental health survey shows 30-year improvement

by Guy Hiscott

Seven per cent of adults in Northern Ireland are edentate, according to preliminary results from the 2009 Adult Dental Health Survey published today [8 December].

Compared to statistics from 1979, this shows that the proportion of adults who are edentate has fallen by 26%.

The 2009 results further show that 84% of dentate adults in Northern Ireland have 21 or more natural teeth (16% more adults than in 1979).

A series of more detailed reports are due to be published in March 2011.

The 2009 Adult Dental Health Survey (ADHS) is the fifth in a series of national dental surveys that have been carried out roughly every 10 years since 1968. The main purpose of these surveys has been to get a picture of the dental health of the adult population and how this has changed over time.

The 2009 survey was commissioned by the NHS Information Centre for health and social care and was conducted on behalf of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health in England and the Welsh Assembly Health Department.

The aims of the survey were:
• To establish the condition of the natural teeth and supporting tissues
• To investigate dental experiences, knowledge about and attitudes towards dental care and oral hygiene
• To examine changes over time in dental health, attitudes and behaviour
• To monitor the extent to which dental health targets set by the Government are being met.

The survey consisted of a questionnaire interview with adults aged over 16 years at all sampled households, and an oral examination of the mouth and teeth of all those adults who had at least one natural tooth.

The sample size for the survey was 13,400 households, 750 of which were in Northern Ireland.