Tooth decay in five-year-olds continues to decline

Figures reveal 23% of five year olds in England had decayed, missing or filled teeth in 2017, down from 30.9% in 2008.


Levels of tooth decay in 5-year-old children are continuing on a steady decline, according to data recently published by Public Health England. However, clear inequalities in oral health remain, with children in deprived areas more likely to be affected. The risk of tooth decay is increased by consuming sugary foods and drinks and not brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.

Public Health England has published two reports presenting information on the oral health of children at local authority level:



Preventing tooth decay in children under five

This professional resource from Public Health England outlines how health professionals, councils and partners can help prevent tooth decay in children under 5 as part of ensuring every child has the best start in life.

The guidance covers the following areas:

  • Scale of the problem
  • Risk factors for tooth decay
  • How to prevent tooth decay
  • Effective interventions for improving dental health
Preventing decay
Image Source:

Motivational Interviewing to Promote Oral Health in Adolescents

Motivational interviewing (MI) is a counseling strategy to help people change their behaviors. This single-blinded randomized controlled trial evaluated the effectiveness of MI in improving adolescents’ oral health | Journal of Adolescent Health

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Fifteen secondary schools were randomly assigned to three groups: (I) prevailing health education, (II) MI, and (III) MI coupled with interactive dental caries risk assessment (MI + RA). Adolescents (n = 512) with unfavorable oral health behaviors (infrequent toothbrushing and/or frequent snacking) were recruited; 161, 163, and 188 in groups I–III, respectively. Participants in the three groups received their respective interventions. At baseline and after 6 and 12 months, participants completed a questionnaire on their oral health self-efficacy and behaviors. Their oral hygiene (dental plaque score) and dental caries (number of decayed surfaces/teeth status) were recorded.

MI was more effective than prevailing health education strategy in eliciting positive changes in adolescents’ oral health behaviors and preventing dental caries.

Full reference: Wu, L. et al. Motivational Interviewing to Promote Oral Health in Adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health. Published online:May 19, 2017

Content analysis of nutritional information in paediatric oral health education leaflets

Arora, A. et al. (2017) BMC Pediatrics. 17:58


Background: The aim of this study was to determine if paediatric oral health education leaflets with a food and nutritional focus provide messages that are clear and consistent with the current Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Infant Feeding Guidelines.

Conclusions: There were some inconsistencies between the leaflets and the dietary and infant feeding guidelines in Australia; and across the leaflets, as not all important messages were included in any one leaflet. Government Health Departments and other relevant agencies should ensure that advisory messages regarding diet, particularly those with dental implications, are clear, complete and consistent across all dental educational leaflets.

Read the full article here

Tooth decay among 5 year olds continues significant decline

The number of 5 year olds with tooth decay has dropped to its lowest level in almost a decade, according to a PHE oral health survey.

The oral health survey published  10 May 2016 by Public Health England (PHE) reveals that less than 25% of the cohort suffers from tooth decay, a 20% drop since 2008.

AS0000094FA09 Child, cleaning teeth
image source: Anthea Sieveking wellcome images//CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

This continues the downward trend seen since 2008, in the first oral health survey of 5 year olds asking parents to opt-in. In 2008, 31% of 5 year olds suffered tooth decay; in 2012 it was 27%. The pattern of dental health improvement among the age group shows the impact parents and carers can have in establishing good dental care habits from an early age.

While there has been a significant decline in tooth decay at a national level, there is still a great deal of regional variation. In the North West, a third (33.4%) of 5 year olds suffer from tooth decay, whereas only a fifth (20.1%) do in the in the South East. As with the 2 previous surveys, areas with higher levels of deprivation tend to have higher levels of tooth decay.

Full survey: Oral health survey of 5-year-old children: 2014 to 2015