Absence of tooth decay in 5 year olds

Published

Contents
  1. 1. Main facts and figures
  2. 2. By ethnicity
  3. 3. Methodology
  4. 4. Data sources
  5. 5. Download the data

1. Main facts and figures

  • overall, 76.7% of children aged 5 years had no obvious tooth decay in 2016/17, an increase compared with 2014/15, when the figure was 75.2%
  • 5 year olds from the Black and White ethnic groups were least likely of all ethnic groups to have obvious tooth decay
  • 5 year olds from the Asian, Chinese and Other ethnic groups were most likely to have obvious tooth decay
  • the percentage of 5 year olds with no obvious tooth decay in 2016/17 was significantly higher than in 2014/15 for the Chinese and White British groups; for other ethnic groups, too few children were surveyed or the results were too varied to
Things you need to know

The oral health survey is based on a sample of 5 year olds at state-funded mainstream primary schools in England. Sample schools from each local authority were selected and asked to identify pupils to take part.

Keep in mind when making comparisons between ethnic groups that all survey estimates are subject to a degree of uncertainty, as they are based on a sample of the population. In this case, the survey is based on a sample of 5 year olds in selected school whose parents allowed them to take part, rather than all 5 year olds in England.

Ethnicity was not known for 2% of the 5 year olds included in the survey in 2016/17. The percentages for all ethnic groups combined (‘All’) includes those with unknown ethnicity. Data for those with unknown ethnicity can be found if you download the data.

What the data measures

This data gives an estimate of the percentage of children aged 5 years who have no obvious tooth decay. The results are broken down by ethnicity.

The results are based on a survey during the 2016/17 school year in which trained dental examiners carried out visual-only examinations to look for signs of tooth decay.

The percentage is calculated as the number of 5 year olds whose examination showed they had no obvious tooth decay, out of the total number of children who were examined.

The data only includes pupils at mainstream state-funded primary schools in England who were 5 years old at the time of the examination.

The ethnic categories used in this data

The oral health survey uses the following broad ethnic groups:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • Chinese
  • Mixed
  • White
  • Other

There’s an additional category for pupils whose ethnic group wasn’t known or recorded.

2. By ethnicity

Percentage of 5 year olds with no obvious tooth decay by ethnicity
Ethnicity 2014/15 2016/17
% %
All 75.2 76.7
Asian 63.3 63.6
Black 78.6 80.4
Chinese 48.7 58.5
Mixed 75.2 76.8
White 78.1 79.1
Other 54.5 56.7

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2016/17, 76.7% of 5 year olds had no obvious tooth decay, making this the average for England; the figure for 2014/15 was 75.2%
  • 5 year olds from the Black and White ethnic groups were most likely to have no obvious tooth decay, at 80.4% and 79.1% respectively – both higher than the average for England
  • the ethnic groups in which 5 year olds were least likely to have no obvious tooth decay were the Asian (63.6%), Chinese (58.5%) and Other (56.7%) ethnic groups – all were lower than the average for England
  • the percentage of 5 year olds of Mixed ethnicity with no obvious tooth decay was similar to the average for England, at 76.8%
  • the percentage of 5 year olds with no obvious tooth decay in 2016/17 was significantly higher than in 2014/15 for the Chinese and White British groups; for other ethnic groups, the change was too small or too few children were surveyed to draw firm conclusions

3. Methodology

The survey sample consisted of children from mainstream, state-funded schools who were aged 5 years at the time of the survey. Examinations were conducted during the 2016/17 academic year using visual-only methods to detect signs of obvious tooth decay.

The parents of children selected for the sample were asked to give consent. Just over 3 in 10 parents (32.0%) didn’t respond, which was the main reason why children didn’t take part. A small percentage of parents (6.0%) refused consent, while 3.3% of children with consent were not at school at the time of the survey. A very small percentage (0.5%) of children with consent declined to take part on the day.

Weighting:

Surveys collect information from a random sample of the target population to make generalisations (reach 'findings’) about everyone within that population.

For those findings to be reliable, the sample of people should ideally contain the same mix of age, gender and regional location as the target population.

Where this isn’t the case (because some people haven’t responded, for example) analysts use statistical tools to ‘weight’ the data. Weighting rebalances the survey responses so they represent the target population more accurately. They can then be used to reach meaningful conclusions.

Deprivation scores were used to weight the sample data to more closely match the distribution of deprivation in 5 bands across the country. You can read more information about weighting in the Dental Public Health Intelligence Programme.

Confidence intervals:

Confidence intervals for each ethnic group are available if you download the data.

The oral health survey is based on a sample of 5 year olds in school, rather than all 5 year olds in England. This measure makes reliable estimates of the percentage of 5 year olds in England who had no obvious tooth decay, but it’s impossible to be 100% certain of the exact percentage.

Based on the oral health survey results, it’s estimated that 76.7% of 5 year olds in mainstream schools in England in 2016/17 have no tooth decay.

It’s 95% certain, however, that somewhere between 76.4% and 77.0% of all 5 year olds in mainstream schools in England had no obvious tooth decay. In statistical terms, this is a 95% confidence interval. This means that if 100 random samples were taken, then 95 times out of 100 the estimate would fall in this range (that is, between the upper and lower confidence interval). But 5 times out of 100 it would fall outside this range.

The smaller the survey sample, the more uncertain the estimate and the wider the confidence interval. For example, fewer 5 year olds from the Chinese ethnic group responded to the survey than those from other ethnic groups, so we can be less certain about the estimate for the smaller group. This greater uncertainty is expressed by a wider confidence interval, for example of between 54.1% and 62.8% for 5 year old children of Chinese ethnicity with no obvious tooth decay in 2016/17.

Statistically significant findings have been determined where the 95% confidence intervals of an ethnic group do not overlap with the value for the group being compared.

Rounding

Percentages are rounded to 1 decimal place in charts and tables, and unrounded in the data download file.

Related publications

Oral health survey of five-year-old children 2016/17: national protocol (PDF)

Survey results and statistical commentary

Quality and methodology information

Further technical information

Find further guidance and descriptions of ethnic groupings at the National Archive page on the ethnicity data standard.

4. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

Official statistics

Publisher

Public Health England

Note on corrections or updates

The percentage of children aged 5 years had no obvious tooth decay in 2014/15 has been revised from 75.4% to 75.2%.

Publication frequency

Every 2 years

Purpose of data source

The aim of the survey is to measure how common and severe tooth decay is among 5 year olds. This can help local authorities prioritise oral health initiatives to help reduce tooth decay.

Secondary source

Type of data

Survey data

Publisher

Public Health England

Publication frequency

Every 2 years

Purpose of data source

The aim of the survey is to measure how common and severe tooth decay is among 5 year olds. This can help local authorities prioritise oral health initiatives to help reduce tooth decay.

5. Download the data

Absence of tooth decay in 5 year olds - Spreadsheet (csv) 1 KB

This file contains the following: ethnicity, value, denominator, numerator, confidence intervals