Author(s): Caplan DJ, Weintraub JA
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Abstract The nation's health care system is currently under scrutiny. A topic of great interest to the dental community is whether dentistry should be included in a plan for national health reform, and if so, what procedures should be covered. To answer this question, 1) the current oral disease burden in the United States should be assessed, and 2) factors associated with this burden should be described. This paper reviews several recent large-scale epidemiologic surveys of oral health in the United States, summarizes their major findings, outlines important risk factors for oral disease, and makes recommendations regarding future oral epidemiologic surveys. The discussion is limited to the following conditions: dental caries, periodontal diseases, tooth loss, edentulism, oral cancer, and orofacial clefts. Five out of six 17-year-olds have at least one decayed, missing, or filled tooth surface (DMFS), with a mean of eight DMFS per 17-year-old. However, 25 percent of the country's children have 75 percent of the dental caries; minority children, rural dwellers, those with minimal exposure to fluoride, and those from less educated or poorer families tend to have a greater caries experience. Root caries, gingivitis, periodontal pockets, and loss of periodontal attachment are more common among older individuals. Whites have more teeth than do Blacks of similar ages, and edentulism is more common among those with less education and income. Of those age 65+, over 40 percent are edentulous and only 2 percent have all 28 teeth. An estimated 30,000 new cases and 8,000 deaths were attributed to oral cancer in 1991, with Black males having higher incidence and mortality rates than other subgroups. Oral clefts occur in about one in 700 total births, with Native Americans having the highest incidence.
This article was published in J Dent Educ
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals