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Oral health of adults in the United States

Secretary of Health and Human Services

This is the first report that has focused exclusively on oral, dental, and craniofacial health by the Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service.

The report was commissioned by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The development of the report was guided by the following charge:

To define, describe, and evaluate the interaction between oral health and general health and well-being (quality of life), through the life span, in the context of changes in society.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) was given lead responsibility for the development of this report and has worked closely with a number of federal agencies and other organizations to carry out that task.

The report critically reviews the relationships between oral health and general health and well-being, provides major messages for the American people resulting from this review, and calls for the development of a National Oral Health Plan that will “improve quality of life and eliminate health disparities by facilitating collaborations among individuals, health care providers, communities, and policymakers at all levels of society and by taking advantage of existing initiatives.”

After this report can reach the following conclusions about the oral health of adults in the United States:

Most adults show signs of gingivitis or periodontal diseases. Severe periodontal disease (whose measure is 6 millimeters of periodontal attachment loss) affects 14 percent of adults aged 45-54 years.

The clinical symptoms of viral infections such as herpes labialis and mouth sores are common in adults, affecting 19 percent of adults between 25 and 44 years old.

Chronic disabling diseases such as temporomandibular disorders, Sjögren’s syndrome, diabetes and osteoporosis affect millions of Americans and compromise oral health and functioning.

Pain is a common symptom of craniofacial disorders and causes interference with vital functions such as eating, swallowing, and speaking. Twenty-two percent of adults reported having experienced some form of orofacial pain in the last 6 months. Pain is the main component of trigeminal neuralgia, facial herpes (PHN) of temporomandibular disorders, fibromyalgia and Bell’s palsy.

The population growth as well as diagnostics that allow early detection of cancer mean that more patients than ever are now receiving cancer treatment. More than 400,000 of these patients will develop oral complications annually.

Patients with immune deficiencies, such as those infected with HIV and those who have undergone organ transplants, are at increased risk of oral problems such as candidiasis.

Working adults lose more than 164 million hours of work each year due to dental disease or dental visits.

For each adult over 18 years without health insurance, there are three without dental insurance.

A little less than two thirds of adults report having visited a dentist in the past 12 months. And those with incomes at the poverty level or above it, are twice as likely to have made a dental visit in the last 12 months than those below the poverty level.

Source: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

You can view the full report HERE.

Oral Health Of Adults In The United States
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