Why Oral Health Is Important

While defined by the Surgeon General of the United States as freedom from the pain associated with chronic oral diseases, oral health has implications for much more than simply a person’s mouth. Not only does continuing research suggest strong links between the health of one’s mouth and the health of one’s heart, lungs and other organs, but oral health impacts the very functions we take for granted each day, from smiling and speaking to eating and swallowing. Without the health of our teeth, the health of our total selves – physical, social, emotional – is severely compromised.

In Vermont and New Hampshire, there is still progress to be made in ensuring that all individuals, from children to the elderly, have adequate access and information to take care of their teeth.

The Numbers

3rd graders with untreated tooth decay – VT: 16% – NH: 12%
Adults age 18+ without a dental visit or teeth cleaning in the past year – VT: 26% -  NH: 24%
Adults > 65 years of age who have lost 6 or more teeth – VT: 44% – NH: 43%
Adults > 65 years of age who have lost all natural teeth – VT: 20% – NH: 19%

Source: National Oral Health Surveillance System, accessed February 21, 2012.

Screenings conducted by the Upper Valley SMILES program in the 2010-11 school year found untreated tooth decay in 22% of children in grades K-3.

Source: Mascoma Valley Health Initiative (MVHI), accessed December 6, 2011.