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Adult Dental Health Survey

The Adult Dental Health Survey collects information about the condition of adults' teeth and dental hygiene. It investigates dental experiences, knowledge of and attitudes towards dental care and oral hygiene.

Read the 2009 survey report - this is from our latest survey, which was published as a national statistic on 24 March 2011.

Visit the UK Data Services Catalogue - the UK Data Services Catalogue publish a full anonymised data set of this survey.

About the survey

Every 10 years since 1968, a survey of the dental health of adults has been carried out. This survey provides information to underpin and help plan dental health care for the whole UK, although the 2009 survey did not include Scotland. The surveys help the NHS understand how the dental health of adults is changing.

People from all backgrounds take part in the survey, whether or not they go to the dentist, so we get an accurate picture of the dental health of adults in each country.

Managing the survey

The survey was carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on behalf of NHS Digital, with funding provided by the Department of Health for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. ONS worked in collaboration with the NatCen Social Research (NatCen), Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), and a team of dental experts from the Universities of Birmingham, Cardiff, Newcastle, Dundee and University College London, and NHS dentists.


Addresses were chosen at random to make sure we get a truly representative picture of everyone living in each country. We interviewed adults from all backgrounds to get an accurate picture.

What the survey involves

A letter was sent to the home of the respondent and an interviewer called to arrange an interview at a time that suited the respondent. Interviews were relaxed, no preparation was required and questions could be skipped.

Following the interview, there was the option of a short dental check-up by a dentist at the respondent's home. The dentist did not carry out any treatment and just looked at the teeth, with feedback about the check-up sent to the respondents. Respondents were encouraged to still go to see their own dentist as usual.

Data collected

The survey and check-up covered:

  • geographies
  • sex
  • age
  • ethnic group
  • household details
  • general health and dental health
  • experience of dental services and treatments
  • dental examination results (tooth and gum condition)

What we do with the answers

The results from thousands of surveys are collected and used for research purposes only. Answers given are completely confidential and respondents can't be identified from the results we publish. Details are never passed to other organisations for commercial purposes.

Further information

Last edited: 8 February 2022 11:20 am