OBJECTIVE: This report presents national estimates and trends for a variety of oral health status measures for persons aged 2 years and older by sociodemographic and smoking status since the late 1980s in the United States.
METHODS: Data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), 1988-1994 and from the NHANES 1999-2004 were used. These data sources were designed to provide information on the health and nutritional status of the civilian noninstitutionalized population in the United States. Information from oral health examination methods common to both survey periods were used to present prevalence estimates and for trend analyses. Statistical significance of differences between common estimates from each survey period was evaluated using two-sided t-tests.
RESULTS: This report provides mean, percentile values, and standard errors for dental caries, dental sealants, incisal trauma, periodontal health, dental visits, perception of oral health status, tooth retention, and edentulism. Additional estimates for monitoring progress toward the Healthy People 2010 oral health objectives using NHANES source data are presented as well.
CONCLUSIONS: For most Americans, oral health status has improved between 1988-1994 and 1999-2004. For seniors, edentulism and periodontitis has declined; for adults, improvements were seen in dental caries prevalence, tooth retention, and periodontal health; for adolescents and youths, dental sealant prevalence has increased and dental caries have decreased; however, for youths aged 2-5 years, dental caries in primary teeth has increased.