How we measure dental disease

To influence the levels of dental disease there has to be measurable data.

An index is an instrument that allows the condition or disease to be measured.

Most indices measure disease and not health, for example:

  • caries
  • periodontal disease
  • fluorosis
  • orthodontic need.

Indices used to measure dental decay are:

  • average dmft (decayed, missing, filled teeth)
  • average dmfs (decayed, missing, filled surfaces)
  • percentage with no obvious decay experience (caries free).

The National Dental Inspection Programme (NDIP) was developed in 2002 and undertakes detailed epidemiological examinations of a random sample of Scottish school children at age five and eleven years.

The aim of the NDIP is to inform children and their parents of their oral health. The use of anonymised data informs Health Boards and the Scottish Government about the condition of childrens’ teeth.

Dental examiners are calibrated and trained to make sure that the data they collect is robust and can be used for service planning.

You can view the most recent reports on the NDIP page on the Scottish Dental website (external link).