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Dental Services

Volume 486: debated on Thursday 15 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what indicators his Department uses to evaluate the oral health of patients in England; (246776)

(2) what assessment he has made of the relative level of oral health in England in comparison with previous years;

(3) what steps he is taking to improve the oral health of patients in England.

The key indicators that we use are the average number of decayed, missing and filled teeth (DMFT) in children and the number of adults with no natural teeth. Information from the decennial national child dental health surveys shows that DMFT in 12-year-old children in England declined from 5.0 in 1973 to 0.7 in 2003, which means that children in this age group are among children with the best oral health in Europe. Meanwhile the adult surveys show that between in 1968 and 1998 the proportion of adults with no natural teeth fell from 37 per cent. to 11 per cent. However, we are not complacent. AH primary care trusts (PCTs) are required to undertake an assessment of the oral health needs of their populations to inform their commissioning of primary care dental services. In September 2007, we published ‘Delivering Better Oral Health: An evidence-based toolkit for prevention’, which provides practical, evidence-based guidance to help dental teams promote oral health and prevent dental disease. A copy has already been placed in the Library. During 2008, the Chief Dental Officer and other leading members of the dental profession contributed to three regional conferences for PCTs and dental care professionals on implementation of the toolkit. Also, through reforms made to the legislation governing the fluoridation of water, we have given communities with high levels of dental disease a real option of having their water fluoridated.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what consideration he gave to appointing a practising NHS community dentist to the Independent Group to review NHS dentistry; and if he will make a statement. (246791)

One of the four review members is a practicing dentist in the community dental service delivering primary care dental services. The four members of the review are drawn from differing backgrounds. Their role is not to represent their ‘sector’ but to listen to the views of all parties and to look more strategically at the issues affecting national health service dental services and NHS patients.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the cost of undertaking the review of NHS dentistry in England; and if he will make a statement. (246867)

We are not at this point attempting to fix the final costs of the review as this will depend on the work Professor Steele and his team decide to undertake. However, our initial estimates of the additional costs of the review are around £250,000.