09:31 AM

State of Oral Health in America is Not So Good

In April, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report on the state of oral health in America, concluding a two year evaluation of the current oral health care system. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requested and funded this report to inform its work in addressing oral health challenges across America. HHS asked the IOM to assess the current oral health system and make strategic recommendations for its future programming. HHS is the federal agency which directs many of the government’s dental delivery, research, training and other programs.

Here are highlights:

  • Tooth decay continues to be a common chronic disease in the United States

  • The prevalence of oral diseases pose a significant burden on the health and well-being of the American people

  • Evidence shows that decay and other oral health complications may be associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes

  • Tooth decay is a highly preventable disease

  • The general public and many healthcare professionals remain unaware of oral disease risk factors and preventive approaches and they do not fully appreciate how oral health affects overall health and well-being.

The IOM recommended that HHS design an oral health initiative that addresses areas in greatest need of attention, using approaches that have the most potential for creating improvement s, and to support this effort with strong leadership, sustained interest, and the involvement of multiple stakeholders.

“The Committee on an Oral Health Initiative reaffirms that oral health is an integral part of overall health and points to many opportunities to improve the nation’s oral health,” IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg, M.D., PhD., said in the foreword to the report. “We issue this report in the hope that it will prove useful to responsible government agencies, informative to the health professions, and public, and helpful in attaining higher levels of dental health.”

The IOM report and brief are posted online at www.iom.edu/Reports/2011/Advancing-Oral-Health-in-America.aspx