Forum Session

Oral Health Update: Ten Years After the Surgeon General’s Report
January 21, 2011


Jessamy Taylor, MPP


Untreated dental and oral diseases, dubbed the "silent epidemic" by the Surgeon General ten years ago, affect large numbers of children and adults and are linked to major health problems such as cardiovascular disease and premature birth. This Forum session examined the relationship between oral health and overall health, discussed the state of Americans’ oral health, outlined key changes in oral health status and access in the decade since the Surgeon General’s May 2000 report, described how the U.S. oral health delivery system is structured, and explained the roles that private and public dental insurance and safety net providers play. Key provisions from the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA) and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) that relate to oral health, and funding availability for them, were highlighted. State and local perspectives on improving access were also included, and the discussion included a variety of viewpoints on future directions for improving oral health in America.


Caswell A. Evans, Jr., DDS, MPH, Associate Dean for Prevention and Public Health Sciences, College of Dentistry, University of Illinois at Chicago; Burton Edelstein, DDS, MPH, Professor of Dentistry and Health Policy & Management, Columbia University, Founding Director and Board Chair, Children’s Dental Health Project; Christine Veschusio, RDH, MA, Director, Oral Health Division, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control; G. Joseph Kilsdonk, AuD, MS, Director of Education, Marshfield Clinic

Slides from the presentations by Dr. Evans, Dr. Edelstein, Ms. Veschusio, and Dr. Kilsdonk are available for download.

Related Materials

For a closer look at this issue, see “Oral Health Checkup: Progress in Tough Fiscal Times?” (Issue Brief No. 836, March 29, 2010).

See also the report, 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), and an earlier Forum session on this topic, "Not All Smiles: Access to Oral Health Care for Low-Income Children" (April 20, 2007).

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