Addressing poor oral health in Wales
Developing initiatives aimed at improving oral health and delivering dental care.
Levels of tooth decay in young children are closely linked to social and economic disadvantage. At age 5, the number of teeth affected by decay is twice as high in the most deprived communities than in the least deprived.
Research evidence provided by the Dental Public Health Unit at the School of Dentistry has led the School of Dentistry working with the Welsh Government to develop a number of research-led interventional initiatives aimed at enhancing the evidence base for improving oral health and delivering better dental care.
Two important studies have been conducted with the aim of improving oral health.
Designed to Smile
Launched in 2008, Designed to Smile is an NHS oral health improvement programme funded by the Welsh Government helping children to have healthier teeth, particularly those resident in areas of social and economic deprivation. Designed to Smile is also underpinned by an evidence based review conducted by the Dental Public Health Unit. Here, evidence is gathered and compiled to evaluate the impact of the programme and make recommendations for future interventions and outcome setting.
Seal or varnish trial
The majority of tooth decay (84%) is located on the biting surface of the first molars which erupt at age six. Two clinical treatments can be used:
- The application of a plastic coating sealant, that occludes the rough biting surface which harbour decay-causing bacteria.
- The application at six-monthly intervals of fluoride varnish, known to strengthen enamel and prevent decay.
The seal and varnish randomised clinical trial aims to examine the relative clinical and cost effectiveness of these treatments and investigate their acceptability to children and their parents.
Poor oral health is closely linked to social and economic disadvantage. Our work is improving the evidence-base on which to tackle oral health inequalities.
Implementation of these initiatives has demonstrated measurable oral improvements, particularly in areas of social and economic deprivation. The Designed to Smile program has led to oral health improvements and a 12% decrease in the prevalence of tooth decay in 5 year olds.
Whilst our research is based predominantly in Wales the group’s research outcomes have an obvious national and international relevance.
Meet our experts
Professor Ivor Chestnutt
Professor and Hon. Consultant in Dental Public Health
- +44 29207 46680
Professor Barbara Chadwick
Emeritus Professor of Paediatric Dentistry
Dr Anwen Cope
Senior Clincial Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Dental Public Health
Dr Damian Farnell
Senior Lecturer in Medical Statistics
- +44 (0)29225 10618
Dr Rebecca Playle
Reader and Deputy Director of Statistics
- Welsh speaking
- +44 (0)29 2074 4821