U.K. to conduct 10-year study of children's teeth

The Children's Dental Health Survey, a 10-year survey of children's oral health in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, will begin this fall.

The survey, which will include more than 1,000 schools and approximately 21,000 children, will be used to plan dental care services. It includes a short dental examination at schools with a random sample of children ages 5, 8, 12, and 15, followed by a postal questionnaire for parents and guardians. This year a self-completion questionnaire for 12- and 15-year-olds will be used, allowing children to record their own dental care regime.

The work is funded by each country's health department. It is designed to complement the ongoing National Health Service's dental epidemiology program of schools-based research on the oral health of children. The survey will include children attending state and independent primary and secondary schools.

Support from dentists is vital to the survey's success, noted Barry Cockcroft, chief dental officer for England, in a press release.

Dental teams are being recruited from the areas local to the schools that are selected to take part. Dentists and dental nurses will be trained before the fieldwork to clarify understanding and application of the examination criteria. All examinations will follow a set procedure and use the same criteria for all children within each age group, although the clinical parameters measured will vary between age groups.

The last survey, in 2003, showed that caries in the permanent teeth of 8-, 12-, and 15-year-old children had decreased significantly since 1983 to its lowest recorded level.

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