National Oral Health Surveillance System (NOHSS)

NOHSS is a collaborative effort between CDC’s Division of Oral Health and The Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD). NOHSS is designed to help public health programs monitor the burden of oral disease, use of the oral health care delivery system, and the status of community water fluoridation on both a state and national level. NOHSS includes indicators of oral health, guidelines for oral conditions and oral health care, information on state dental programs, and links to other important sources of oral health information.

NOHSS includes eight basic oral health surveillance indicators as its main focus. This is a minimal set of indicators, to be expanded in the future, based on data sources and surveillance capacity available to most states. The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) and the Association of State and Territorial Chronic Disease Program Directors were instrumental in developing the framework for chronic disease surveillance indicators including these oral health indicators.

Data sources for NOHSS will include national surveys (NHANES, NHIS, Fluoridation Census) and state-based surveys (BRFSS, YRBSS, PRAMS, ASTDD’s Basic Screening Survey and annual State Synopses).

Oral Health Indicators

  • Dental Visits. Routine dental visits aid in the prevention, early detection and treatment of tooth decay, oral soft tissue disease, and periodontal diseases
  • Teeth Cleaning. Having one’s teeth cleaned by a dentist or dental hygienist is indicative of preventive behavior.
  • Complete Tooth Loss. Loss of all natural permanent teeth (complete tooth loss) substantially reduces quality of life, self-image, and daily functioning.
  • Fluoridation Status. Water fluoridation has played an important role in reducing tooth decay and tooth loss.
  • Caries Experience. Dental caries is the single most common chronic disease of childhood, occurring five to eight times as frequently as asthma, the second most common chronic disease in children (data not yet available).
  • Untreated Caries. To avoid pain and discomfort, decayed teeth need to be restored. To keep as much of the natural tooth as possible, decayed teeth should be repaired promptly so that fillings may be kept small (data not yet available).
  • Dental Sealants. Plastic coatings applied to decay-susceptible tooth surfaces (the pits and fissures) have been approved for use for many years and are recommended by professional health associations and public health agencies (data not yet available).

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