Tooth decay is a common chronic disease in the United States and one of the most common diseases worldwide. Evidence shows that decay and other oral health complications may be associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. While tooth decay is a highly preventable disease, individuals and many healthcare professionals remain unaware of the risk factors and preventive approaches for many oral diseases, and they do not fully appreciate how oral health affects overall health and well-being.
In 2009, the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) asked the IOM to assess the current oral health care system and to recommend strategic actions for Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies to improve oral health and oral health care in America. The IOM recommends that HHS design an oral health initiative consistent with IOM’s proposed set of organizing principles, which are based on the areas in greatest need of attention and on the approaches that have the most potential for creating improvements. In addition, the IOM stresses three key areas needed for successfully maintaining oral health as a priority issue: strong leadership, sustained interest, and the involvement of multiple stakeholders.