Oral health refers to the health of the teeth, gums, and the entire oral-facial system that allows us to smile, speak, and chew. Some of the most common diseases that impact our oral health include cavities (tooth decay), gum (periodontal) disease, and oral cancer.
More than 40% of adults report having felt pain in their mouth within the last year, and more than 80% of people will have had at least one cavity by age 34. The nation spends more than $124 billion on costs related to dental care each year. On average, over 34 million school hours and more than $45 billion in productivity are lost each year as a result of dental emergencies requiring unplanned care.
Oral conditions are frequently considered separate from other chronic conditions, but these are actually inter-related. Poor oral health is associated with other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Oral disease also is associated with risk behaviors such as using tobacco and consuming sugary foods and beverages.
Public health strategies such as community water fluoridation and school sealant programs are safe and effective interventions proven to prevent cavities and save money.