University of Dundee dentists help pilot new Scottish Adult Oral Health Survey

Survey first step in informing policy and service planning
Friday, March 31, 2017

The Scottish Adult Oral Health Survey, a pilot study commissioned by the Scottish Dental Epidemiology Co-ordinating Committee (SDECC), has started to build a picture of the nation’s teeth – supported by work from University of Dundee dentists and researchers.

The survey was a collaboration between the University of Dundee School of Dentistry, the University of Glasgow, NHS Information Services Division, NHS Education for Scotland, and colleagues from NHS Boards.

It analysed data collected by dentists during routine examinations of 1,867 patients between December 2015 and March 2016, with the principal aim of assessing the feasibility of collecting data on the oral health of adults in Scotland.

Some of the survey’s key findings include:

• Nearly all adults aged 45 or over had at least one natural tooth, and two thirds of those with at least one natural tooth were able to eat comfortably.
• Adults living in the most deprived areas in Scotland were more likely to smoke cigarettes.
• There is a higher level of gum disease recorded for those adults who smoke.
• Older patients and those living in more deprived areas in Scotland were less likely to be able to eat comfortably, and had fewer natural teeth.

Susan Carson, Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Specialty Registrar in Dental Public Health at the University of Dundee School of Dentistry, was a key member of the survey steering group and undertook a significant amount of the project management.

She said:

"The contribution of dentists from across Scotland was crucial to the pilot, not only in terms of collecting data, but also in providing feedback on the acceptability of the system to their patients and staff.”

“Maintaining and improving the data collection system will be of potential future benefit for researchers in both Dundee and beyond."

Margie Taylor, Scotland’s Chief Dental Officer, said:

“Although we have excellent data for children through the National Dental Inspection Programme, there is less information for older groups for whom we have to plan services.”

“We have never before had so many older people and so many with their own teeth. Their needs for treatment as they age will be very different from previous generations so we have to collect clinical data.”

“With this knowledge, we hope to build on the success of this study by extending it to other age groups, and increasing the number of patients who take part. These data will help to inform policy, plan services and maintain and improve the oral health of patients in Scotland for many generations to come.”

Susan wasn’t the only Dundee-based dental researcher to assist with the survey. Also playing a part were Derek Richards, Consultant in Dental Public Health, Honorary Senior Lecturer and Director for the Centre of Evidence Based Dentistry; and Dr Linda Young, an NHS Education for Scotland Research Manager who is based at the Dundee Dental Education Centre.

For more information on the Scottish Adult Oral Health Survey, visit the NHS Information Services Division website.

For more information on studying Dentistry with us, visit the University of Dundee course pages.

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University of Dundee dentists help pilot new Scottish Adult Oral Health Survey