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Oral Health Assessment and Review

Cover sheet of Oral Health Assessment guidancePublished March 2011


All of the above forms are also available in one file (PDF 2.2MB).

These publications are only available as downloadable online resources. They are no longer available in print.

About this guidance

Oral Health Assessment and Review aims to facilitate the move from a restorative approach to patient care to a preventive and long-term approach that is risk-based and meets the specific needs of individual patients. It also aims to encourage the involvement of patients in managing their own oral health. The Guidance in Brief  incorporates some important developments including:

  • Oral Health Assessments: comprehensive assessments that are only carried out for new patients and then at intervals of 12 months for children or 24 months for adults.
  • Focused Oral Health Reviews: interim reassessment of elements of oral health previously identified as of concern, carried out at variable intervals depending on the patient’s risk of future oral disease.
  • Applicability: clarification that the approach described is not suited to patients who only attend for urgent care.
  • Record keeping: noting those assessment elements that have been completed and recording positive findings.

Some practices will already provide care for many of their patients in a way that reflects the guidance recommendations. However, for others, implementing this approach may represent a significant change to current practice. Therefore it is important to note that:

  • adopting this approach is not expected to be immediate, though some aspects could be implemented incrementally;
  • the development of complementary practice software will greatly facilitate following the guidance.

The Guidance in Brief refers to a full version (PDF 9.5MB) of the guidance which is now also available. The full version is a more in depth version of the guidance information on which the Guidance in Brief is based and is provided here as a reference for those who require more details. Based on the draft guidance that was available for consultation in 2009, this document has been updated to incorporate important amendments included in the Guidance in Brief in response to consultation feedback. This version includes explanation of the background and general principles of Oral Health Assessment and Review, each element of the assessment and the guidance development process. Please note that this version of the guidance may be subject to further amendments through an ongoing process of review and updating. We welcome feedback to inform future updating.

Guidance development

A Guidance Development Group, comprising individuals from a range of branches of the dental profession, was convened to develop and write this guidance, assisted by our Programme Development Team. Draft guidance was subject to wide consultation and a less detailed Guidance in Brief version was created in response to feedback received, with input from an Advisory Group of representatives of dental primary care. Further information on the SDCEP guidance development process is available.

During the development process, potential barriers to the implementation of this guidance were identified. A Guidance Implementation Summary (PDF) of information about these is provided. For further details visit the TRiaDS website

Guidance Development Group

Name Position
Nigel Pitts (Chair) Professor of Dental Health and Director, Dental Health Services Research Unit, University of Dundee
Jenny Hally* Clinical Research Fellow, Dental Health Services Research Unit, University of Dundee
Phil Higginson General Dental Practitioner, Dundee
Nicola Innes** Clinical Lecturer in Paediatric Dentistry, Dundee Dental Hospital and School, University of Dundee
Lorna Macpherson Professor of Dental Public Health, University of Glasgow
Mary McCann General Dental Practitioner, Glasgow; Dental Adviser, Scottish Prison Service; Dental Adviser, MDDUS
Charles Ormond General Dental Practitioner, Falkirk
Derek Richards Special Adviser to the Programme Development Team; Consultant in Dental Public Health, Forth Valley; Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry, Oxford
Margaret Ross Senior Lecturer for DCPs, Edinburgh Dental Institute
Petrina Sweeney Senior Lecturer/Honorary Consultant in Special Care Dentistry, University of Glasgow Dental School

* up to January 2009     ** from January 2009

Guidance in Brief Advisory Group

Name Position
Richard Borland General Dental Practitioner, Broughty Ferry
Gerard Boyle General Dental Practitioner, Glasgow
Kay Cullen Dental Hygienist, Prestwick
Eleanor Ferguson General Dental Practitioner, Kirriemuir
Judith Mackie General Dental Practitioner, Forfar
Fiona MacKinnon Senior Dental Nurse, Blairgowrie
David McColl General Dental Practitioner, Glasgow

The Guidance Development Group would also like to thank Dr Dafydd Evans (Dundee Dental Hospital) and Prof. Ian Needleman (UCL Eastman Dental Institute) for their valuable contribution to the development of this guidance.

SDCEP acknowledges the important contribution of all those who commented during the consultation stage.

Review and updating

A review of the context of this guidance (regulations, legislation, trends in working practices and evidence) will take place three years after publication and, if this has changed significantly, the guidance will be updated accordingly.