Improvement Needed in Preventive Oral Healthcare



A recently released National Center for Health Statistics data brief details the results of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2011-2012. The NHANES survey is co-sponsored by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research. Data from the NHANES 2011-2012 indicates that approximately 91% of adult Americans between the ages of 20 and 64 years have dental caries.

According to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA), the high prevalence of caries underscores the need to increase and improve preventive measures to reduce incidence of dental caries.“This report reinforces the need for greater attention to prevention as it relates to oral health,” said ADHA president Kelli Swanson Jaecks, MA, RDH. “Effective strategies for assessing caries risk and management are well-documented in current scientific literature, and yet the condition remains prevalent, and is even increasing in vulnerable populations.”

“People are living longer,” said ADHA executive director Ann Battrell, MSDH, “and the factors that affect oral and overall health are becoming increasingly complex as the American population ages.”

The NHANES 2011-2012 focused on age and ethnicity as related to incidence of caries, presence of untreated caries, retention of all permanent teeth, and complete edentulousness. Findings included that while the adults most likely to experience caries are non-Hispanic white, the people most likely to have untreated caries are non-Hispanic black or Hispanic. Also, non-Hispanic black adults are the most likely to be edentulous.

“The information from this data brief allows oral healthcare providers to use an evidence-based approach to preventive oral healthcare and disease management. Our collective efforts can improve the public’s overall health and quality of life,” added Ms. Battrell.

(Source: ADHA news release, May 15, 2015;