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Child oral health

You are currently viewing a topic page that is part of the Cluster Planning Support Portal (CPSP). Each topic page comprises (a) topic-specific strategic context; (b) signposting to data analyses relating to local health needs; and (c) improvement action options.


A. Strategic context

Consider the national strategic context for prioritising improvement action in this area (in conjunction with your health board’s annual plan and regional partnership board’s area plan). The strategic importance of a given topic is key to thinking about how our actions align with local or national initiatives and policies to deliver collective and measurable impacts on population health.

  • In 2015-16 a third of children aged 5 to 6 years in Wales had experience of tooth decay; on average 10 children out of class of 30 would have tooth decay, with these 10 having 3.6 decayed teeth (WOHIU 2017).
  • Evidence from the Dental Epidemiology programme for Wales demonstrates that oral health inequalities exist from as early as 3 years of age, and children living in the most deprived areas have the largest burden of dental disease.
  • Experiencing tooth decay at a young age can not only cause pain and infection, but also disturb sleep, limit ability to focus attention and eat a varied diet, hinder speech development, and negatively affect self-image and mental health.
  • Tooth decay is one of the most common reasons for childhood hospitalisation; it has a lifelong impact as poor childhood dental health is a predictor of poor adult dental health.In the vast majority of cases, tooth decay is entirely preventable through positive health behaviours (Designed to Smile).
  • The Welsh Government set out strategic direction for oral health improvement in A healthier Wales: the oral health and dental services response (WG 2018). 
  • A multi-faceted approach is required to improve population oral health, with a strategy which influences the wider determinants of health and addresses oral health inequalities.  Clusters will benefit from specialist dental public health advice when formulating plans to improve oral health of their local population.

B. Data analyses

Consider statistical indicators and other evidence on population needs to compare your own position to that of others, both within and without your health board (where possible). If relevant, consider any additional local data requirements that might contribute to an informed decision on action.

  • Indicator: Description of a recommended indicator relating to this topic, which would inform population needs assessment.
  • Data source and link: Who produces the analysis and where to find the most current analysis on their website (NB the most current analysis may not utilise the most recent data).
  • Documentation link: Where to find general advice on interpreting the analysis e.g. what is/ is not included, any caveats, etc.


Prevalence of decayed, missing or filled teeth (%)

Data source and link:

Dental Epidemiology Programme for Wales

Documentation link:

This data source includes reports that provide context


C. Improvement actions

Identifying priority actions involves seeking and appraising evidence on effective and cost-effective improvement options. The below options are a starting point for considering interventions at practice, cluster/ professional collaborative or pan-cluster level. The make-up of your cluster and the stakeholders you work with is likely to influence the type of actions you take.

Reviewed by: MW | Review date: 11/04/23 | Topic code: DEN-001