Oral Health Initiatives

About the Issue

Oral health is closely tied with overall health, and understanding their connection is key to living healthy. Problems in your mouth can affect your overall body and can also be significant indicators of general health problems. That's why poor oral health is such an important issue. 

Poor oral health is a condition that affects both children and adults. Tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in the United States with 1 in 5 children aged 5 to 11 years old having one untreated decayed tooth. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning.

Oral health complications are also prevalent in older adults:

  • In the United States, nearly one-third of all adults have untreated tooth decay.
  • One in seven adults aged 35 to 44 years has gum disease, and that statistic increases to one in every four adults aged 65 years and older.
  • Nearly a quarter of all adults have experienced some facial pain in the past six months.
  • Oral cancers are most common in older adults, particularly those over 55 years who smoke and are heavy drinkers. 
  • About 25 percent of adults 60 years old and older no longer have any natural teeth.

Despite these statistics, tooth decay is largely preventable. Healthy People 2020, a collaborative effort under the leadership of the Federal Interagency Workgroup (FIW), identifies oral health as one of the most significant preventable threats to health in this first decade of the 21st century and establishes national goals to reduce these threats. The CDC's National Call to Action to Promote Oral Health includes recommendations on addressing oral health needs including education on the link between oral health and general health, community-based oral health promotion and intervention programs, applied research demonstration projects, enhancement of the oral health work force, and collaboration across all aspects of society.


U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -

Children's Oral Health
Oral Health for Adults
Preventing Dental Carries with Community Programs
Oral Health Guidelines and Recommendations

American Academy of Oral Medicine -

Antiplatelet and Anticoagulant Agents (blood thinners) and Dental Procedures

National Institute of Health - National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research -

Diabetes Dental Tips
Tooth Decay Resource page

Mayo Clinic -

Adult Health - How Oral Health Can Affect Your Overall Health