Fluoride Action Network

CDC: Oral Health Fast Facts

Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention | Division of Oral Health
Posted on August 25th, 2020
Industry type: CDC


  • Oral health is essential to general health and well-being.
  • Oral disease can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, and learning. It can also affect social interaction and employment potential.1
  • The three oral conditions that most affect overall health and quality of life are cavities, severe gum disease, and severe tooth loss.2
  • By age 8, over half of children (52%) have had a cavity in their primary (baby) teeth.3
  • Low-income children are twice as likely to have cavities as higher-income children.3
  • 1 in 4 adults aged 20 to 64 currently has cavities.3
  • Drinking fluoridated water and getting dental sealants (in childhood) prevent cavities and save money by avoiding expensive dental care.4, 5
  • Tobacco use and diabetes are two risk factors for gum disease.6, 7
  • On average, 34 million school hours are lost each year because of unplanned (emergency) dental care, and over $45 billion in US productivity is lost each year due to untreated dental disease.8
  • Medical-dental integration between oral health and chronic disease prevention programs benefits patients and saves money.9

Featured Infographics

Smoking and Tooth Loss
Percentage of adults aged 65 or older who lost their teeth, 2011-2016

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, 2000.
  2. World Health Organization. (2020, March 20). Oral Health. Retrieved April 3, 2020 from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/oral-healthexternal icon
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oral Health Surveillance Report: Trends in Dental Caries and Sealants, Tooth Retention, and Edentulism, United States, 1999–2004 to 2011–2016. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/publications/OHSR-2019-index.html
  4. Community Preventive Services Task Force. Oral Health: Preventing Dental Caries, School-based Dental Sealant Delivery Programs. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, Community Preventive Services Task Force; 2016. https://www.thecommunityguide.org/sites/default/files/assets/Oral-Health-Caries-School-based-Sealants_0.pdf pdf icon[PDF-579KB]external icon
  5. Community Preventive Services Task Force. Oral Health: Preventing Dental Caries, Community Water Fluoridation. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, Community Preventive Services Task Force; 2017. https://www.thecommunityguide.org/sites/default/files/assets/Oral-Health-Caries-Community-Water-Fluoridation_3.pdf pdf icon[PDF-590KB]external icon
  6. Leite RFM, Nascimento GG, Scheutz F, Lopez R. Effects of smoking on periodontitis: a systematic review and meta-regression. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2018; 54:831-841.
  7. Leite R, Marlow NM, Fernandes JW. Oral Health and Type 2 Diabetes. The American Journal of Medical Sciences 2013;345:271-273.
  8. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 2018 National Health Expenditure Data. NHE Tables; Table 12: https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/NationalHealthExpendData/NationalHealthAccountsHistoricalexternal icon.
  9. Atchinson KA, Weintraub JA, Rozier RG. Bridging the dental-medical divide. Case studies integrating oral health care and primary health care. J Am Dent Assoc 2018;149:850-858.

Page last reviewed: August 25, 2020

*Original article online at https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/fast-facts/index.html