Gum disease survey finds better advice recall rates
A survey on gum disease and oral hygiene has found that the number of patients able to remember receiving advice on oral hygiene has increased since 1998. The latest Adult Dental Health Survey (ADHS), which looked at gum disease in the UK population, asked dentate adults (those with at least one natural tooth) if they had ever received advice from a dentist about cleaning their teeth and gums. Nearly 80% replied that they had, compared with 64% in the late 90s.
The survey's sample size was 13,400 households, with a response rate of 60%. Over 11,400 people were interviewed, and around 6,500 dentate adults examined. These statistics made the survey the largest ever of adult dental health in the UK.
A plus point from the survey was that around three-quarters of respondents were aware of the importance of brushing their teeth twice a day. However, two-thirds of these people had plaque to some degree and just over two-thirds had calculus in at least one sextant. This suggests that the twice-daily oral-hygiene ritual could be more effective in many cases.
Responses were less encouraging when patients were asked if they'd received advice from their dentist about smoking and diet. Only 9% of dentate and 7% of edentate patients who'd seen their dentist in the last 24 months could remember being quizzed about cigarettes. Around 66% said their dentist had never broached the subject of diet.
In summary, the gum disease and oral health survey indicates a continued improvement in dental health. Results vary between England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but improvements noticed in younger groups over 20 years ago are now clear up to age 45. For those with dental decay or gum disease, however, problems can be extensive. Some much older people also have quite complex dental needs.
Regular brushing is a good health behaviour and the dental health survey found that more dentate adults than ever before are brushing twice daily. A substantial majority of adults also said that they go to the dentist at least once every two years, the maximum recommended period. The survey also found that, while getting access to NHS dental services is difficult for a minority, most adults who attempted to make an NHS dental appointment in the previous three years were successful.