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Report on NHS dentistry drills down to deeper level of activity data for first time

The latest annual dental statistics from NHS Digital contain the most in-depth information about dental care ever published in this series.
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NHS Dental Statistics, England: 2018-19 includes information about patients seen and treated by NHS dentists1, with statistics on activity2 broken down to dental practice level for the first time.

The report shows that half of all adults in England (21.96m) saw an NHS dentist in the 24 months up to June 20193. This is compared to 22.03m in the 24 months to June 2018, a slight decrease from 50.7% to 50.2%.

Among children, 59.0% (7.00m) saw an NHS dentist in the 12 months to June this year4. This is a slight increase from 58.6% (6.90m) in the 12 months to June 2018.

Regional information5 shows that the North West of England recorded the highest level of adults seeing an NHS dentist in the 24-month reporting period, at 55.7%. London had the lowest proportion with 44.0%.

For children, 64.1% in the North East and Yorkshire saw an NHS dentist in the 12-month reporting period, the highest of any region. The lowest was London with 50.6%.

The report also includes information on the number of courses of treatment6, the type of treatment7 and charges to patients8.

In 2018-19, 39.72m courses of treatment were completed by NHS dentists. This is compared to 37.43m in 2008-09. Examinations were the most commonly carried out treatments for both adults and children, while the second most common treatments were scale and polish for adults and fluoride varnish for children.

Charges to patients for NHS dental treatment totalled £854.58m in 2018-19, an increase of 5.1% on the 2017-18 charges, which were £813.02m.

Dental workforce information shows there were 24,545 dentists performing NHS activity during the financial year 2018-19, an increase of 237 (1.0%) on 2017-18. In 2008-09, the equivalent number was 21,343.

Other data in the report includes:

  • Dental activity measured in Units of Dental Activity
  • The number of dentists performing NHS activity per 100,000 of population
  • The number of dentists by age band and gender


Read the full report:

NHS Dental Statistics, England: 2018-19

Notes to editors

  1. This report covers work carried out by 'high street dentists', who account for the majority of dental activity, and work undertaken by dentists under vocational training. The publication does not cover dental services provided privately or activity undertaken in hospitals.
  2. Dental activity is measured through Courses of Treatment (CoT) and Units of Dental Activity (UDA). On a patient’s first visit, the dentist determines the amount of work needed. The patient then starts a CoT. Depending on the complexity of the treatment, each CoT represents a given number of UDAs. These are monitored through the year to ensure delivery of the contracted activity.
  3. Patients seen shows the number of adult patients who received NHS dental care in the previous 24 months, where their last Course of Treatment started within the past 24 months.
  4. For children the measure shows the number who received NHS dental care in the previous 12 months, where their last Course of Treatment started within the past 12 months.
  5. This release shows the current mapping for NHS commissioning regions following the change on April 2019. The new NHS Commissioning Regions are as follows: Y56 London, Y58 South West of England, Y59 South East of England, Y60 Midlands, Y61 East of England, Y62 North West and Y63 North East and Yorkshire.
  6. A Course of Treatment is a patient examination, an assessment of their oral health, the planning of any treatment to be provided because of the examination and assessment, and the provision of any planned treatment (including any treatment planned at a time other that the time of the initial examination) to that patient.
  7. Courses of Treatment are banded accord to the most complex treatment in the course:

Band 1 - check up and simple treatment eg examination, x-rays and prevention advice.

Band 2 - mid range treatments eg fillings, extractions, and root canal work in addition to Band 1 work.

Band 3 - includes complex treatments eg crowns, dentures, and bridges in addition to Band 1 and Band 2 work.

Urgent - a specified set of treatments (including up to two extractions and one filling) provided to a patient where oral health is likely to deteriorate significantly, or the person is in severe pain because of their oral condition; or to prevent significant deterioration or address severe pain.

Other – Courses of Treatment which include the following procedures do not have a patient charge: arrest of bleeding, bridge repair, denture repair, removal of sutures and prescription issues

There can be significant differences between Courses of Treatment within the same band. For example, a Course of Treatment with several large fillings would have the same treatment band as one with a single small filling.

  1. Patients are split into three types according to age and exemption status: paying adults - pay a charge to the full cost of the treatment; non-paying adults - exempt or remitted from paying a charge to the full cost of the treatment; children. Paying adults are charged according to the treatment band.


NHS Digital is the national information and technology partner of the health and care system.  Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend.  During the 2018/19 financial year, NHS Digital published 265 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better.

For media enquiries please contact or telephone 0300 30 33 888. Follow us on Twitter: @NHSDigital

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Last edited: 28 August 2019 4:56 pm