Oral Health Survey 2023

Last updated on 27-6-2024 by Pierre Daubresse

Dear participant,

You received in your mailbox an invitation to take part in the 3rd National Oral Health Survey, in addition to the National Health Interview Survey, without obligation. The Oral Health survey is a large-scale epidemiological study on oral health in Belgium, which is part of the National Health Interview Survey. Sciensano is organising this study in collaboration with the Interuniversity Cell Epidemiology (ICE), a group of dentists at KU Leuven, UGent, ULB and UCL. With this initiative, we aim to assess the oral health of the population and identify the most common oral health problems. We use the results of the data collected to develop health policies adapted to the needs of the population. 

Your participation is important. The results enable:

  • monitoring of the evolution of oral health in Belgium,
  • an improvement of oral health policy and organisation.

​What exactly does participating in the study entail?

  • If, during the Health Survey, you agree to be contacted again to participate in the oral health survey, you will be contacted by the ICE secretariat or your dentist shortly after the end of the Health Survey to schedule an appointment.  
  • You can choose to have the oral health examination conducted by your own dentist in his/her dental practice or by a dentist from the research team at your home. Your choice will be noted during your participation in the Health Survey. 
  • The study consists of an examination of the oral cavity and is completely painless.  
  • You will receive a compensation afterwards in the form of a gift voucher that you can spend in several shops across Belgium.

​Frequently asked questions

Why does my participation matter?

The oral health survey collects data on the current state of dental and oral health of residents in Belgium. Based on this and previous editions, we can: 

  • monitor the evolution of oral health in Belgium,
  • assess and improve the policy and organisation of oral health care. 

To collect representative data of oral health in Belgium, it is important that as many people as possible participate, regardless of their health. Participating in the oral health survey means contributing to a better organisation of oral health care in Belgium, as well as a free check-up of your teeth and oral cavity.

How was my household selected?

Your household was randomly selected to participate in the Health Interview Survey. More info on this selection can be found via the Health Interview Survey project page. Participants aged 5 and over in the Health Interview Survey are automatically invited to take part, additionally and completely voluntarily, in the national oral health survey.

What specifically does this research entail?

The oral health study is organised by Sciensano on behalf of the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (NIHDI). Sciensano is responsible for the study and for analysing and reporting the results. We collaborate with Statbel (the Belgian statistical office) and the Interuniversity Cell Epidemiology (ICE), which provides the expertise for the clinical aspects of the study. 

During the Health Interview Survey: 
In order to contact you again after the Health Interview Survey, the interviewer will ask for your written consent to pass on your contact details to the ICE and the dentist. Your details will be kept strictly confidential.


  • Choice of dentist

You can choose to have the oral health examination done by your own dentist. This means that you will visit your dentist at the appointed time. Dentists in Belgium have already been informed about this study and will receive all the necessary information to perform the oral health examination on you. If you choose to visit your own dentist, the interviewer will take down your dentist’s name and address. 

You can also choose to have the oral health examination performed by a dentist from the research team. In this case, you will be contacted by the ICE secretariat to make an appointment and a dentist will visit your home at the agreed time. The dentist will bring the necessary equipment himself. 


  • Contact details and contact preferences

To efficiently schedule an appointment, it is important that the ICE secretariat and the dentist can easily reach you. Therefore, the interviewer will ask you to provide your telephone number or e-mail address without obligation. This information is only available to the ICE secretariat and the dentist, and will be deleted immediately after the examination. 
You can also indicate at what times during the week it is best for the ICE secretariat or the dentist to contact you to schedule an appointment.  

After the Health Interview Survey:
The ICE secretariat will be informed of your willingness to participate in the oral health survey and will be forwarded the information necessary to reach you again (name, address, telephone number and e-mail address). They will also have other relevant information, such as when you are best reached, the choice of dentist and — if applicable — the name and address of your dentist. 

This information ensures that the scheduling of the examination can go smoothly. If you chose to have a dentist come to your home, you can expect a phone call from the ICE secretariat. They will schedule an appointment with you directly. If you chose to have the examination performed at your own dentist’s home, the ICE secretariat will first contact your dentist and provide sufficient information. The dentist will then schedule an appointment with you at a time that is convenient for you. 

During the oral health examination: 
Before the examination takes place, you will complete and sign a consent form. The dentist will assess the condition of your teeth and mouth. Both your teeth and gums will be checked. 

How long does the oral health examination take?

The examination is completely painless and takes between 15 to 30 minutes.

Is participation in the oral health examination mandatory?

No, your participation is not mandatory but highly appreciated. So we hope you will participate in this study. Even during the study, you have the right to stop your participation at any time. You can even decide after the end of this study without any consequence that your data should not be used.

Can I opt out when I am seriously ill or have to go to hospital, for example?

It is not a mandatory study, but to ensure the quality of the results, it is very important that all those invited participate. If you cannot participate due to health reasons, we are of course very understanding. 

Will I be paid for participating?

No, but you will receive compensation in the form of a gift voucher that you can spend in several shops across Belgium. For a visit to the dentist as part of this survey, you will receive a 40 euro gift voucher. If the dentist comes to your home, you will receive a 20 euro gift voucher. 

You will receive the gift voucher after the oral health examination by post or e-mail. For administrative reasons, this may take several weeks. 

To whom is this research directed?

The oral health survey is aimed at the total population in Belgium, from young to old, with and without health issues. We want to assess the oral health status of the inhabitants in Belgium. It is therefore important that we are able to survey both healthy and less healthy individuals.

How can I identify a dentist from the research team?

A dentist of the research team must always be able to show an accreditation card with a photo and logo of the ICE upon request. 

What if the ICE secretariat or dentist has not yet contacted me?

Organizing oral health research is a complex matter. Sciensano wants to ensure you that nothing can go wrong. The preparations took more time than expected, causing us some delays. We are now ready for the next step: contacting the candidates for the study. Haven’t you received your invitation for the study yet? That’s normal; we will contact you as soon as possible. We thank you for your patience!

You can always contact us by mail to ice-cie@kuleuven.be or by phone at the number 016 71 35 21. 

Will my data from the oral health examination remain confidential?

The information from the oral health examination is strictly confidential. By contract and by law, the dentist must abide by professional confidentiality. 
Moreover, all personal data that we collect are kept strictly confidential. They are stored and analysed in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation. We guarantee that no identifying data will be transferred to third parties. The results of this research will be published, but these publications will never contain information that would make it possible to identify the individuals who participated in the research.

This research has been approved by the Medical Ethics Committee of Ghent University Hospital. 

When will the results of this study be available?

We expect all surveys to be conducted by the end of June 2024. After that, we can start checking the data and conducting the analyses. By the end of 2024, the first results will be published and appear in the media. On the Health Interview Survey project page, we will also publish the results for the 2023 Health Interview Survey.  


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