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Oral health: key points

Two aspects of oral health are considered here: obvious decay experience in children (decayed, missing or filled teeth) and prevalence of natural teeth in adults.

Children's oral health

  • In 2017, 77% of Primary 7 (P7) children in Scotland were found to have no obvious decay experience in their permanent teeth, a steady increase since ISD started recording this information in 2005 (53%). Similarly, the proportion of P1 children with no obvious decay experience in their primary teeth increased from 45% in 2003 to 69% in 2016.
  • Dental disease inequalities persist, with children from the most socio-economically deprived backgrounds having the highest levels of decay experience. In 2017, the percentage of P7 children with no obvious decay experience ranged from 66% for children in the most deprived quintile (SIMD1) to 87% for those in the least deprived quintile (SIMD5). The measure of absolute inequality, i.e. the difference in values between SIMD 1 and 5 groups, has remained at 21% since 2013. In 2016, the percentage of P1s with no decay experience ranged from 55% (SIMD1) to 82% (SIMD5) and absolute inequality has remained at around 30% since 2008.
  • By 2016, the 2010 national target (60% of P1 & P7 children with no obvious decay experience) had still not been met for P1 children in the most deprived quintile (55%). The target was reached for P7 children in the most deprived quintile (SIMD1) for the first time in 2013. All SIMD quintiles have now met the target for P7 children.

(Data sourced from the National Dental Inspection Programme (NDIP) publications - Primary 1 (2016) and Primary 7 (2017)). 

Adults' oral health

  • The oral health of adults in Scotland has improved markedly over the last 40 years. The trend is likely to continue into the future, with fewer adults having no natural teeth and more adults retaining more teeth into their older years. In 2014, 91% of adults reported that they had all or some of their own natural teeth (93% of men and 89% of women).

(Data sourced from the Scottish Health Survey/Supplementary2014 publication).

Section updates:

  • The last major update of this section was completed in December 2016.
  • The next major update is due to be carried out by end December 2017.
Page last updated: 22 November 2017

© Scottish Public Health Observatory 2014