The Surgeon General's report on America's oral health: opportunities for the dental profession

J Am Dent Assoc. 2000 Dec;131(12):1721-8. doi: 10.14219/jada.archive.2000.0118.


Background and overview: The release this year of "Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General"--the first such report on this topic in U.S. history--gives national visibility to the scope and breadth of oral health and disease in America. The report emphasizes oral health's inextricable link to general health and well-being. Although the country has seen major improvements in oral health, some population groups have yet to benefit from these improvements. To address health disparities and improve quality of life for all Americans, the surgeon general's report calls for the development of a National Oral Health Plan.

Conclusions: "Oral Health in America" identifies opportunities for the dental profession on behalf of the nation's overall health. The profession is uniquely positioned to ensure that all components of the National Oral Health Plan are addressed: changing perceptions to ensure that oral health is seen as integral to general health; removing barriers to care; enhancing health infrastructure; accelerating the transfer of science into practice; and continuing to participate in private/public partnerships.

Clinical implications: The report's findings highlight the importance of assessing patients' known risks of experiencing oral diseases and of educating patients about health-promoting behaviors. The integral role of oral health in general health, as described in the report, makes it imperative for health professionals to ensure appropriate referrals to practitioners in all areas of health care.

MeSH terms

  • Dental Caries / epidemiology
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control
  • Dental Research
  • Dentistry*
  • Ethnicity
  • Health Planning*
  • Health Promotion*
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Mouth Diseases / economics
  • Mouth Diseases / epidemiology
  • Mouth Diseases / prevention & control
  • Oral Health*
  • Quality of Life
  • United States / epidemiology
  • United States Public Health Service