Adult Oral Health Survey

Findings from the sixth series of the adult oral health survey.
  • Authors:
    Mari Toomse-Smith Katie Ridout
    Elizabeth Fuller
    Katy Robertson
    Nigel Pitts
    Jenny Gallagher
    John Morris
    Anja Heilmann
    George Tsakos
    Richard Holmes
    Katie Jones
    Gail Douglas
  • Publishing date:
    25 January 2024

About the study

The Adult Oral Health Survey 2021 is the latest in the long running series of dental surveys carried out every ten years. The survey provides an insight into the health of adults’ teeth and mouths and the need and access of treatment in England.

The 2021 Adult Oral health survey was commissioned by Public Health England (PHE), now the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID). The survey was carried out by a consortium led by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen). The consortium includes the University of Birmingham, King’s College London, the School of Dental Sciences at Newcastle University, the Dental Public Health Group and Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London (UCL), and the Office for National Statistics (ONS).


  • two thirds (66%) of adults reported they had very good or good oral health. Twenty-six per cent reported they had fair oral health and 7% reported they had bad or very bad oral health 
  • seventy-seven per cent of adults with natural teeth brushed their teeth at least twice a day, in accordance with the current guidance. More than half of adults (59%) who brushed their teeth used an electric toothbrush
  • sixty-three per cent of adults said they went to the dentist for regular check-ups, 15% went for occasional check-ups and 18% went to the dentist only when they had trouble with their mouth, teeth or dentures
  • a third of adults (33%) said that the cost of dental care had affected the type of dental care or treatment they had received. A quarter (25%) of adults reported they had had to delay dental care or treatment because of the cost  


The Adult Oral Health Survey 2021 was designed to be representative of adults in England. A total of 6,343 adults took part in the survey during February and March 2021.

Participants completed a self-completion questionnaire, via the web or paper form. The survey questionnaire covered self-assessed oral health, oral health behaviours, service use, barriers to care and impacts of oral health. 

The report includes finding only from the 2021 survey; because differences in the survey methodology mean findings from the 2009 Adult Dental Health Survey (ADHS) and 2021 are not directly comparable.