Background: The 2003 Children's Dental Health Survey is the fourth of the 10-yearly surveys of children's oral health.
Aim: To report the prevalence of three non-carious tooth conditions in children in the UK.
Method: A representative sample of children five, eight, 12 and 15 years of age were examined by calibrated examiners in schools across the UK. The dental examination included accidental damage to incisors, tooth surface loss (TSL) and enamel opacities (age 12 only). A postal questionnaire sought parental and child views on marks on teeth which could not be removed by brushing.
Results: The proportion of children sustaining accidental damage to permanent incisors decreased to 11% of 12 and 13% of 15-year-olds, but the majority of accidental damage remained untreated. TSL was found on 53% of five-year-olds and on approximately a third of 12 and 15-year-olds. There was a statistically significant change for TSL on permanent teeth at age 15 where 27% upper incisors had TSL palatally in 1993 compared to 33% in 2003. Thirty-four per cent of 12-year-old children had enamel opacities on one or more of their teeth compared with 36% in 1993.
Conclusions: Tooth surface loss remains a common finding in children in the UK. A large proportion of accidental damage to teeth remains untreated.