Overview and quality assurance for the oral health component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2005-08

J Public Health Dent. Winter 2011;71(1):54-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-7325.2010.00202.x.


The oral health component for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) was changed in 2005 from an examination conducted by dentists to an oral health screening conducted by health technologists rather than dental professionals. The oral health screening included a person-based assessment for dental caries, restorations, and sealants. This report provides oral health content information and presents results of data quality analyses that include dental examiner reliability statistics for data collected during NHANES 2005-08. Oral health data are available on 15,342 persons aged 5 years and older representing the civilian, noninstitutionalized population of the United States who participated in NHANES 2005-08. Overall, interrater reliability findings indicate that health technologist performance was excellent with concordance between examination teams and the survey reference examiner being almost perfect for a number of assessments. Concordance for dental caries and sealants (kappa statistics) between health technologists and the survey reference examiner ranged from 0.82 to 0.90 for the combined 4-year period. These findings support the use of health technologists in the assessment of person-based estimators of dental caries and sealant prevalence as part of an oral health surveillance system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomedical Technology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Dental Caries / epidemiology
  • Dental Health Surveys*
  • Dental Restoration, Permanent / statistics & numerical data
  • Dentists
  • Educational Status
  • Ethnic Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys*
  • Oral Health*
  • Pit and Fissure Sealants / therapeutic use
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality Control
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Tooth Diseases / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Workforce


  • Pit and Fissure Sealants