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Am Fam Physician. 2006;73(8):1471

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released recommendations for preventing dental caries and improving oral health. The recommendations YOU appeared in the August 26, 2005, issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and are available online at

The prevalence and severity of dental caries in permanent teeth declined across all demographic and age groups from 1988 to 1994 and from 1999 to 2002. The use of dental sealants among children and adolescents has increased significantly, and older adults are retaining more of their teeth. Although general oral health is improving, some disparities remain, and minorities, persons with lower income and education levels, and current smokers have larger unmet needs than other groups. To continue oral health improvements, the CDC makes the following recommendations:

  • Public health interventions to prevent dental caries should extend to persons in all age groups and sociodemographic categories.

  • Factors related to the lack of reduction of dental caries in primary teeth should be studied.

  • As the U.S. population ages and more adults keep their natural teeth, preventive interventions are needed at the individual, clinical, and community levels.

  • Programs designed to promote oral health (e.g., dental sealants, smoking cessation programs) should include interventions to reduce disparities in racial and ethnic minorities, persons with lower income and education levels, and current smokers.

  • Surveillance tools are needed to monitor fluoride exposure from multiple sources.

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