The Information Centre for health and social care's latest report on dental statistics for England revealed that just over 70 per cent of all children aged 17 or under had visited an NHS dentist in the last two years.

It also found that 54.9 per cent (27.9 million) of the entire population had seen an NHS dentist in the two years leading up to 30 June 2007, and that 7.8 million were children - 70.7 per cent of the child population.

The report, NHS Dental Statistics for England, Quarter 1, June 2007, considers NHS dental activity in England and includes analysis of the number of courses of treatment.

It also includes a new easy-to-use electronic fact sheet, which accompanies the report online.

The tool allows users to compare the results for any primary care trust against averages for the parent strategic health authority, and for England as a whole.

Katharine Robbins, head of primary care and resources at the Information Centre, said: "This measure will be key for PCTs under the new NHS operating framework, as it asks them to demonstrate year-on-year improvements in the number of patients accessing local dental services."

The next report, NHS Dental Statistics for England, Quarter 2, is due to be published in late February.