Why are caries levels reducing in five-year-olds in England?

Gillian Davies*, J. Neville, K. Jones, S. White

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective To explore possible reasons for the reduction in population caries levels among 5-year-old children in England since 2008.Design An ecological study to explore possible reasons for the apparent reduction in dental caries, which included changes in survey methods, deprivation levels and ethnic mix of the population, impact of community level oral health improvement interventions, reductions in sugar intake, and increases in the availability of fluoride.Setting Data were drawn from three consecutive epidemiological surveys undertaken in 2007/8 and 2011/12 (NHS Dental Epidemiology programme for England), and 2014/15 (Public Health England Dental Public Health Epidemiology Programme). Evidence about the possible reasons for the observed reduction in caries levels was drawn from a range of national sources.Main outcomes measures Severity and prevalence of caries at dentinal level as measured by visual means alone among children aged five years.Results Reasons relating to changes in methods used in the survey, deprivation and ethnicity were rejected, along with community level interventions, as reasons for whole population level change. The factor relating to reduced sugar intake was neither rejected nor sustained. Reasons relating to increased fluoride availability, in particular that for increased concentration in children's toothpastes, was sustained.Conclusions The reduction in caries levels among 5-year-olds has most likely been brought about by the wider availability of children's toothpaste containing at least 1,000 ppm fluoride, along with other factors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number836
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2017


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