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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration

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Oral Health

Where We Are

About 108 million people in the U.S. have no dental insurance. Even those who are covered may have trouble getting care.

The U.S. has about 141,800 working dentists and 174,100 dental hygienists, but 4,230 Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas with 49 million people living in them.

Anyone who has ever had a toothache knows dental pain can make it impossible to work, study or just carry on the normal activities of daily life. Oral health problems seldom get better on their own and can be both a sign and a cause of disease elsewhere in the body.

The U.S. spends about $64 billion each year on oral health care -- just 4 percent is paid by Government programs. 

Oral Health Initiative

To improve the oral health of underserved people, HRSA is exploring ways to improve access to oral health care, increase awareness of the connection between oral health and overall health, promote prevention, and improve oral health literacy to health providers and patients alike. 

The Oral Health Initiative Go to exit disclaimer. includes HRSA-sponsored Institute of Medicine consensus studies examining existing oral health activities and programs, regulations, and resources and evaluating policies that could better support oral health care:


National Oral Health Conference

I must have heard several hundred people say: "If my kid is really sick, I can take him or I can take her to the emergency department — the ER. But I can't get dental care anywhere."
HRSA Deputy Administrator Marcia K. Brand, PhD addresses the 2011 National Oral Health Conference - Integration of Oral Health into Primary Care (04-12-2011)

Oral Health: Number 1 Problem  video from the conference

Oral Health Parity video from the conference

Promoting and Enhancing the Oral Health of the Public: HHS Oral Health Initiative announced at the conference


Considerations for Oral Health Integration in Primary Care Practice for Children (PDF - 85 pages) The information in this document may be used by Federal, State, academic, and non-governmental organizations as the basis to educate primary care providers working with children. The content may also be used to increase knowledge and integration of oral health preventive interventions into systems of care that leads to quality improvement.

Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. A silent epidemic of oral diseases is affecting our most vulnerable citizens—poor children, the elderly, and many members of racial and ethnic minority groups.