The intent of this first-ever Surgeon General's Report on Oral Health is to alert Americans to the full meaning of oral health and its importance to general health and well-being. Great progress has been made in reducing the extent and severity of common oral diseases. Successful prevention measures adopted by communities, individuals, and oral health professionals have resulted in marked improvements in the nation's oral and dental health. The terms oral health and general health should not be interpreted as separate entities. Oral health is integral to general health; this report provides important reminders that oral health means more than healthy teeth and that you cannot be healthy without oral health. Further, the report outlines existing safe and effective disease prevention measures that everyone can adopt to improve oral health and prevent disease. However, not everyone is experiencing the same degree of improvement. This Surgeon General's report addresses the inequities and disparities that affect those least able to muster the resources to achieve optimal oral health.
For whatever the reason, ignoring oral health problems can lead to needless pain and suffering, causing devastating complications to an individual's well-being, with financial and social costs that significantly diminish quality of life and burden American society.