Oral Health 

Project Status: Completed

Oral Health

Access the Final Report: Oral Health Performance Measurement: Environmental Scan, Gap Analysis & Measure Topics Prioritization  

The Opportunity

The 2000 report, Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General, first described oral health as a "silent epidemic," strongly suggesting that it extends far beyond just achieving and maintaining healthy teeth. It underscored the essential link between oral health and general health and well-being.1 Today, oral health remains a serious national health problem, one that burdens 53 million adults and children across the United States.2 By current definition, oral health means being free of chronic oral-facial pain conditions, oral and pharyngeal (throat) cancers, oral soft tissue lesions, birth defects such as cleft lip and palate, and numerous other diseases and disorders that affect the oral, dental, and craniofacial tissues.3 The impact of oral health in the U.S. is dramatic and widespread; dental caries (tooth decay) remains the single most common chronic childhood disease.4  In addition, significant disparities exist in oral diseases amongst many disadvantaged and underserved populations.5 Approximately one-third of the U.S. population has no access to community water fluoridation, which helps to prevent tooth decay.6 

About the Project

This project will address the need for oral health performance measures that are applicable to oral health safety net dental programs, the Child Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA), the Medicare and Medicaid core measures set, and for use by other implementers. It will build on work by HHS, the Dental Quality Alliance, and others to identify oral health measures throughout the measure pipeline, including measure concepts and recognize where there are gaps in measures and prioritize measures for further development and testing. The project will focus on measures applicable to all populations, with specific focus on children and other vulnerable populations.


NQF will conduct an environmental scan to identify existing measures from various sources throughout the measure pipeline and will also identify where measure gaps exist in the priority areas defined by the HHS Oral Health Initiative, Healthy People 2020, and HRSA's strategic priorities. NQF will also employ an expert panel to prioritize the measure concepts or preliminary measures that could be targeted for further development and testing.

NQF Related Work 

National Voluntary Consensus Standards for Child Health Quality Measures 2010 


This project is funded under a contract provided by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Contact Information  

For further information, contact Donna Dugan, PhD, MS at 202-783-1300 or via email at oralhealth@qualityforum.org.


  1. U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); 2000. Available at www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/oralhealth/. Last accessed January 2012.
  2. HHS, "HHS Launches Oral Health Initiative," Washington, DC:HHS, April 26, 2010. Available at www.hhs.gov/ash/news/20100426.html. Last accessed January 2012.
  3. Ibid.
  4. HHS, "Preventing Dental Caries with Community Programs," Atlanta, GA:Centers for Disease Control (CDC);2010. Available at www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/publications/factsheets/dental_caries.htm. Last accessed January 2012.
  5. HHS, "Promoting and Enhancing the Oral Health of the Public: HHS Oral Health Initiative 2010," Washington, DC:HHS, 2010. Available at www.hrsa.gov/publichealth/clinical/oralhealth/hhsinitiative.pdf. Last accessed January 2012.
  6. Ibid.

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