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Dental Health

Mission Statement

To provide leadership in oral disease prevention, anticipate needs, and mobilize efforts that will help protect and promote good oral health for Oklahoma citizens.

Oral Health Diseases

Dental diseases are among the most prevalent health problems in Oklahoma. Although oral diseases are considered highly preventable with knowledge currently available, most of the state's population is affected with some form of dental disease at some time during their lives. Since most dental disease is preventable, dental professionals can influence the course of this disease through preventive measures such as fluoridation programs, dental education and tobacco-use prevention programs, dental sealant programs, and regular dental visits. Teeth are necessary for appearance, for proper speech, and to properly chew food. Untreated dental diseases affect the quality of life of all Oklahomans and can result in very serious health problems.


A number of major surveys have been performed to determine the prevalence of oral disease in the United States. Health needs assessments provide valuable information on the status of a region's dental health. 

The National Oral Health Surveillance System (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 monitor the burden of oral disease, use of the oral health care delivery system, and the status of community water fluoridation on both a national and state level. The NOHSS is designed to track oral health surveillance indicators based on data sources and surveillance capacity available to most states. The Dental Health Service of the Oklahoma State Department of Health reports state oral health program activities to the Association of State & Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD). 

The “Friends for Life” Dental Health Education Program, which consisted of dental health educators teaching elementary school children about taking care of their teeth and mouth, was eliminated in 2016.

However, Dental Health Service continues to inform county staff about the importance of oral health. Factors such as oral hygiene, fluorides, nutrition, drinking water, tobacco products, and visiting a dentist impact the health of our teeth and gums. Oral health is related to mental health, physical health, social health and economic health. It affects school performance and the ability to get a job. The good news is dental diseases are mostly preventable.

Dental Health Service offers trainings to public health nurses on the application of fluoride varnish. In many county health departments, registered nurses will apply fluoride varnish to the teeth of children to help prevent dental decay. In addition, the nurses provide dental counseling. Contact your local county health department to see if fluoride varnish is available for your child.

Dental care starts young. Here are some basic tips for parents of young children:

  • Fluorides: modalities are complementary
    • Toothpaste with fluoride: mere smear
    • Community water fluoridation: get it from the tap
    • Fluoride Varnish: 2-4 times per year, from a medical or dental professional
    • Silver Diamine Fluoride: arrest decay and stop sensitivity without drilling, from a dental professional
  • Oral hygiene:
    • Cleaning: gentle, daily, routine (can use damp cloth for babies)
    • Brushes: extra soft, age-appropriate
    • Help with brushing until about age eight
  • Dietary:
    • No juice before age one, and very limited after age one
    • No juice at bedtime, for dehydration or for diarrhea
    • No sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, sports drinks
    • Begin drinking from a cup around six months and off bottle by the age of one
    • WATER as the drink of choice
  • Model:
    • Be a good example for child
    • Find a dental home

Fact Sheets:

Good oral care is fundamentally important to overall health.  This guide is designed to be a toolkit for family members/caregivers to help provide good oral care for the children they care for. It is also designed to be a quick reference guide for dental providers on how to best provide oral care for children with special health care needs.

Other information is available for download at the Sooner Success website, a statewide information and referral for Oklahomans with special needs.

It is important for every child to have a dental home.  A list of dentists indicating an interest in being a potential provider for the very young child and/or children with special health care needs may be found on the Oklahoma Dental Association website.

The Delta Dental of Oklahoma Foundation produces a directory of free and low-cost dental clinics and programs across the state.

Contact Information

Mailing Address:
Oklahoma State Department of Health
Dental Health Service
123 Robert S. Kerr Ave., Suite 1702
Oklahoma City, OK 73102-6406

Physical Address:
Oklahoma State Department of Health
123 Robert S. Kerr Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK

Phone: (405) 426-8460