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01 February 2017

Deprivation impacts on the type of dental care received, new research finds

A new study published in the journal PLOS One has found that adults from areas of high deprivation were less likely to receive prevention care and advice, and more likely to have a tooth extracted, compared to those from the least deprived. And in a dental facility where teeth are restored if at all possible and there is a very strong preventive approach.

The team of researchers from the Dental Institute at King’s College London and the University of Portsmouth Dental Academy examined data which covered a four-year period from 2008-2012, looked at individual factors, including demography, smoking status and whether patients were exempt from paying for treatment, as well as contextual factors, such as deprivation based on area of residence, to identify factors which predict the types of dental treatment received.

They found that:

  • Adults from the most deprived quintile were more likely to receive ‘tooth extraction’ when compared with least deprived, and less likely to receive preventive ‘instruction and advice’.
  • There was also evidence of a higher rate of ‘tooth extraction’ among adults who were exempt payment, older (>65 years) and male.
  • Preventive care was much more commonly provided than nationally.
  • Smokers had a higher likelihood of receiving all treatments and were notably over four times more likely to receive ‘instruction and advice’ than non-smokers.
  • The odds of receiving treatment increased with age among adults.

Co-author Professor Jenny Gallagher from King’s College London said: “We know from other research that people from areas of higher deprivation are more likely to suffer from tooth decay less likely to attend regularly and only go for emergency care when in trouble. We want to encourage patients not to wait but to attend regularly so that dental disease can be picked up early and the need for extraction is reduced. Also to ensure that they take any preventive care and advice available to reduce the risk of further disease”

“Our study provides evidence of an increasing need for treatment with age, smoking, exemption from payment and deprivation status, all of which have implications for health services planning and provision.  The results provide a crucial insight into the provision and receipt of contemporary dental care, and should inform discussions on performance indicators that target priority groups such as smokers and future planning for our ageing population.”

Principal investigator Dr Kristina Wanyonyi from the University of Portsmouth Dental Academy said: “In utilising routinely collected data from visits to the dentist we were able to understand more about patients’ needs and plan services effectively.”

“The University of Portsmouth Dental Academy, which is a collaboration between the University of Portsmouth and King’s College London Dental Institute, is in a unique environment to evaluate dental care in the NHS and this research provides evidence on the need to promote the availability of electronic records for use in patient centred research.”




Papers mentioned in this release:

Dental Treatment in a State-Funded Primary Dental Care Facility: Contextual and Individual Predictors of Treatment Need? By Kristina L. Wanyonyi , David R. Radford, Jennifer E. Gallagher. Published: January 24, 2017 on Plos One. Can be viewed here:


The King’s College London Dental Institute

King’s College London Dental Institute is one of the foremost Dental Schools in the world. Recently ranked fourth in the world in dentistry by the QS World University Rankings 2016, and first in the UK, the Dental Institute aims to maximise impact on health and wellbeing by integrating excellence across four areas:

  • Education / teaching
  • World-class science
  • Clinical approaches
  • Patient care

The Faculty’s international reputation attracts students and staff from across the globe. The largest dental academic centre in the UK, they teach over 700 undergraduate students, 140 graduate taught students, 300 distance learning students and 110 graduate research students. 

The Dental Institute has over 85 academic staff and is organised into four research divisions: Craniofacial Development & Stem Cell Biology, Mucosal & Salivary Research, Tissue Engineering & Biophotonics and Population & Patient Health. The research divisions complement the teaching and clinical service initiatives.

As well as excellent research facilities the Dental Institute has internationally recognised education programmes. With highly skilled teachers and supervisors, there are exceptional facilities, including access to over 300,000 patients each year across the two world-famous hospitals, Guy’s and St Thomas’, for hands-on clinical training. They are one of the most comprehensive dental academic health science centres in Europe.

Further details of the Institute may be found on its website:


The University of Portsmouth Dental Academy

The University of Portsmouth Dental Academy is a state of the art training facility developed in partnership between the University, King’s College London Dental Institute (KCLDI) and the National Health Service (NHS).

The Dental Academy offers a unique model of team-based education which facilitates a shared learning experience for Dental Care Professional students from the University and final year dental students from KCLDI. Students and staff operate via four practice teams and an NHS contract which replicates the reality of working in dental practice. Students and staff work clinically in the Dental Academy and across a wide variety of community settings.