Considerable progress has occurred in the US over the past quarter-century in terms of improving children’s oral health. Federal and state policies, programs, and partnerships have contributed to improvements in oral health status. Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage expansions helped increase the use of dental
services, and investments in safety-net facilities and training programs helped expand service delivery and the oral health workforce. Nevertheless, dental caries remains the most common chronic disease of childhood, notable oral health disparities persist, and the adoption of evidence-based innovations remains slow and uneven. This article
highlights improvements during the past twenty-five years in US children’s oral health and oral health care that stem from major federal and state initiatives, as well as persistent disparities. We offer promising strategies for reducing gaps and suggestions for overcoming challenges to future progress, including renewed emphasis on oral health during early childhood; greater integration in education and clinical service delivery programs; development of standardized quality measures; and data collection systems that support more robust surveillance, program monitoring, and system improvements.