Hospital admissions for tooth decay highest amongst England’s most deprived

New figures on hospital admissions for dental procedures reveal higher rates for patients from the most deprived sectors of the population when the primary diagnosis is for dental caries– also known as tooth decay.

Almost one fifth of such admissions were for patients from the most deprived ten per cent of the population (18 per cent, or 18,320 admissions out of 101,390). However, those from the least deprived ten per cent of the population accounted for only four per cent of admissions with a primary diagnosis of dental caries (4,400).

Today’s figures are part of a special topic on hospital dental services, presented as part of the monthly provisional Hospital Episode Statistics publication, which shows data on hospital admissions for dental operative procedures broken down by patient demographics.

The report also shows that from December 2011 to November 2012:

  • London Strategic Health Authority (SHA) had the highest rate of admissions for dental procedures (570 admissions per 100,000 of the population). The lowest rate of admissions was for the East of England SHA (290 per 100,000 of the population).
  • There were approximately 2,400 fewer admissions (209,870) for dental procedures than in the previous 12 month period (212,280).
  • Admission rates were slightly higher for females (430 per 100,000 of population) than for males (360 per 100,000). This trend is consistent across all Strategic Health Authorities.
  • The rate of admissions per 100,000 of the population was three times higher for those aged 0 to 29 than for those aged 60 or over. The higher rate of attendances amongst younger patients is consistent with the fact that paediatric dentistry is one of the four dental specialisms practiced in hospital.

HSCIC Chief Executive Tim Straughan said: “Today’s figures show a correlation between rates of hospital dental procedures caused by tooth decay and the patient’s level of deprivation. Today’s report has implications for the public’s dental health and for hospital trusts in England that perform dental services, in particular those that serve England’s most deprived areas.”

The full report can be viewed at

*Regional information to PCT level available upon request

Notes to editors

  1. HSCIC was previously known as the NHS Information Centre. It is England's authoritative, independent source of health and social care information. It works with a wide range of health and social care providers nationwide to provide the facts and figures that help the NHS and social services run effectively. Its role is to collect data, analyse it and convert it into useful information which helps providers improve their services and supports academics, researchers, regulators and policymakers in their work. The HSCIC also produces a wide range of statistical publications each year across a number of areas including: primary care, health and lifestyles, screening, hospital care, population and geography, social care and workforce and pay statistics.
  2. HES figures are available from 1989-90 onwards. The quality and coverage of the data have improved over time. These improvements in information submitted by the NHS have been particularly marked in the earlier years and need to be borne in mind when analysing time series. Some of the increase in figures for later years (particularly 2006-07 onwards) may be due to the improvement in the coverage of independent sector activity. Changes in NHS practice also need to be borne in mind when analysing time series.
  3. The term ‘dental caries’ (a.k.a. tooth decay) refers to both a disease of the teeth that is caused by an interaction of food and bacteria leading to erosion of the outer layers of the teeth causing cavities, and the cavities themselves. ‘Dental caries’ is identified by the three digit ICD-10 code K02.
  4. The socio-economic group used is derived from the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). IMD is a measure of multiple deprivations which ranks the relative deprivation of each area of England with regards to a number of domains (such as crime and income), and then combines the individual scores to produce a composite score for each area. The patient's residential postcode is then mapped to one of these areas, and summarised into 10 groups for presentation.
  5. Hospital dental services cover oral surgery, restorative dentistry, paediatric dentistry & orthodontics. Hospital dentists tend to see fewer patients than general dental practitioners. However, their treatment is usually more complex as they have generally been referred by a general dental practitioner or doctor. Patients may be referred by their dentist or doctor for advice and treatment planning.
  6. Admissions are Finished Episode Admissions (FAEs), which refers to the number of times that patients have been admitted to hospital. This should not be interpreted as the number of different patients that are admitted to hospital as it is possible that a patient may be admitted to hospital on more than one occasion.
  7. All totals have been rounded to the nearest 10; percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
  8. For media enquires please call 0845 257 6990 or email

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