Research abstract

British Dental Journal 222, 778 - 781 (2017)
Published online: 26 May 2017 | doi:10.1038/sj.bdj.2017.455

Subject terms: Anaesthesia and sedation | Dental public health | Paediatric dentistry

Exploring the potential value of using data on dental extractions under general anaesthesia (DGA) to monitor the impact of dental decay in children

A. Mortimore1, R. Wilkinson2 & J. H. John3

  • Highlights the greater impact of dental decay on children from more deprived backgrounds.
  • Reports that the cost of DGAs in Southampton in 2014-15 was around £210,000.
  • Suggests that DGA data must be interpreted with caution as changes in numbers could be the result of service issues and changes, and not dental decay levels.
  • Suggests these data could be used to benchmark dental decay levels in children, evaluate the impact of local oral health improvement interventions, and advocate for investment.

Aim To explore the value of DGA data as an indicator of the impact and inequalities associated with child dental decay (caries) in Southampton.

Design Data from the local DGA provider in Southampton was used to investigate trends in child (17 years and under) DGAs between 2006/7 and 2014/15. Retrospective analysis of anonymised child-level 2013/14 and 2014/15 data from the same service was carried out to identify any inequalities with respect to deprivation, impact on school attendance and cost to the health economy.

Results Around 400-500 Southampton children needed a DGA annually within this period. There were year-on-year variations, but no upward or downward trend. The DGA rate was 2.5 to three times higher in the most deprived quintile compared to the least. This translates to an equivalent gap in school absences, which could impact on educational achievement. The cost of these procedures in 2014/15 was around £210,000.

Conclusions DGA data have value in highlighting the impact and inequalities associated with dental decay on children and the wider economy. Nationally, they could be used for benchmarking. Locally, these data could be used to target and evaluate health improvement programmes as well as to highlight DGA service changes that would disproportionately affect children from more deprived backgrounds.

  1. Consultant in Public Health and Visiting Fellow, Primary Care and Population Sciences, University of Southampton, University Hospital Southampton, Tremona Road, Southampton, SO16 6YD;
  2. Public Health Registrar, Wessex School of Public Health, Health Education Wessex, Southern House, Otterbourne, Hampshire, SO21 2RU;
  3. Honorary Senior Lecturer in Dental Public Health, King's College London Dental Institute, Population and Patient Health Division, c/o NHS England (Wessex) Headquarters, Oakley Road, Southampton, SO16 4GX

Correspondence to: J. H. John3 e-mail:

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