Aberdeen research prompts change in dental policy benefiting thousands of Scottish children


Description of impact

University of Aberdeen research directly led to a change in the Scottish Dental Contract which has doubled the number of children receiving fissure sealants. The University of Aberdeen's Health Services Research Unit (HSRU) conducted a randomised trial looking at the effectiveness of a strategy to improve adoption of fissure sealants — known to reduce decay in children's teeth but which were rarely administered. The trial examined a fee-for-service intervention in primary dental care where each dentist received £6.80 per tooth sealed. It demonstrated that fee payment was associated with an increase in fissure sealant placement in dental primary care. This led to a change in the Scottish Dental Contract which now includes a fee-for-service for the placement in fissure sealants in children over 11 years old. From 2008, guidance documents from the NHS Department of Health and the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme have recommended placement of fissure sealants on children above 11-years-old. These guidance documents are provided to some 10,000 dentists throughout the UK. Since the introduction of the fee, over 37,000 children per year in Scotland have received fissure sealants. This is double the number of children receiving sealants compared to before the policy change and equates to some 150,000 children receiving the sealants since January 2008.

The claimed impact, as defined by REF guidance, is therefore on public policy and services; practitioners and professional services; society and economically.
Impact statusImpact Completed (Open)


  • Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care