Introduction to the epidemiology of paediatric caries.
Dental caries is the commonest disease in humans. In deciduous teeth, untreated dental caries affects over 621 million children worldwide .
In the UK paediatric caries remains prevalent amongst all age groups. In Wales, 34.2% of 5-year-old children have signs of decay, and in England this figure is 23% [2,3]. In Scotland, 30.6% of children aged 4-5 years have obvious decay in their primary dentition .
Caries in children follows a strong social gradient (figure 1). In the UK, children from low socio-economic groups can be up to twice as likely to have dental caries as those from higher groups . However, the total burden of disease has come down in recent years and the social gradient is no longer widening.
Figure 1: Prevalence of experience of dental decay in 5-year olds in England, 2019 by national index of multiple deprivation. Reproduced from: National Dental Epidemiology Programme for England: oral health survey of 5-year-olds 2019 
Dental caries is a common cause of hospital admission in children for tooth extraction under general anaesthetic. Left untreated, dental caries can cause pain, sepsis and has been linked to poor school performance .
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 Information Services Division, NHS National Services Scotland. Report of the 2016 Detailed National Dental Inspection Programme of Primary 1 children and the Basic Inspection of Primary 1 and Primary 7 children.
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