In a 2001 landmark report, Oral Health in America, the Surgeon General of the United States made 2 particularly important points: first, that one cannot be healthy without a healthy mouth and, second, that there is a crisis of poor oral health in America. Dental diseases continue to be a major public health problem today despite major advances in preventive dental science and practice over the past century—most notably in fluorides and fluoridation. The 2 most important diseases that affect the oral cavity are dental caries (tooth decay) and periodontal disease (gum disease), but oral disability from oral infections or tooth loss can also be significant issues.

Dental caries is the most common chronic disease of children between 5 and 17 years of age and ...

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