Oral Health Workgroup

Objective Status

  • 2 Target met or exceeded
  • 2 Improving
  • 1 Little or no detectable change
  • 3 Getting worse
  • 3 Baseline only
  • 1 Developmental
  • 0 Research

Learn more about objective types

About the Workgroup

Approach and Rationale

According to the Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health (2000), “Oral health means much more than healthy teeth,” and is integral to the overall health and well-being of all Americans.”1 Early detection and preventive services, such as dental sealants and fluorides, can prevent oral health conditions. Although data indicate that oral health conditions such as untreated tooth decay and tooth loss have declined over the past few decades, disparities still persist in certain segments of the population.2

Core objectives selected by the OH Workgroup aim to reduce the prevalence of tooth decay, untreated tooth decay, tooth loss, and periodontitis. In addition, OH objectives aim to increase the proportion of people who are aware of preventive dental care and of how certain behaviors and chronic conditions can affect oral health. Risk communication and health education (including improving oral health literacy) are important ways of reducing disease and increasing knowledge about prevention and treatment.

The OH Workgroup also selected an objective that focuses on the development of a surveillance system to monitor key oral health indicators that can be used to support oral health programs.

OH objectives and targets are aligned with agency strategies and priorities, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Oral Health Strategic Framework and strategic planning efforts. All Healthy People 2030 core objectives meet several criteria — for example, they have baseline data, a direct impact on health, and an evidence base.

Understanding Oral Health

Despite improvements in oral health since the first Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health in 2000, certain segments of the population still suffer disproportionately from oral disease.1,2 Certain age groups, racial/ethnic groups, and income levels continue to have a greater burden of disease.1,2 The prevalence of untreated decay is often higher among non-Hispanic black populations, Mexican-American populations, and older adults.2 Access to care and insurance coverage are also important factors that continue to affect oral health disparities.3

Emerging issues in Oral Health

As the demographics of the population continue to shift, public health and health care systems will need to expand their ability to meet the growing needs of a diverse and aging population by incorporating new scientific discoveries and preventive techniques into existing oral health practice. Medical/dental integration (including team-based care and cross-cutting practice models), referral and expanded infrastructure (including telehealth/tele dentistry), and electronic health records are recognized public health strategies to improve overall health.



U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2000). Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. Retrieved from https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/sites/default/files/2017-10/hck1ocv.%40www.surgeon.fullrpt.pdf [PDF - 4.9 MB]


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Oral Health Surveillance Report: Trends in Dental Caries and Sealants, Tooth Retention, and Edentulism, United States, 1999–2004 to 2011–2016. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/pdfs_and_other_files/Oral-Health-Surveillance-Report-2019-h.pdf [PDF - 5.3 MB]


Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (2017). Research Findings #38. Retrieved from https://meps.ahrq.gov/data_files/publications/rf38/rf38.pdf [PDF - 2.4 MB]