Epidemiology: NHANES Surveys

The NHANES, or National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, is a series of surveys conducted in the United States beginning in the 1960s to examine the oral and nutritional status of a large, representative population. A paper published in 2007 described the trends in oral health status based on data collected from people aged 2 years and over from 1988–1994 and 1999–2004.10 Two more recent papers reported on the information from the 2005-200811 and 2011-201212 surveys. The information collected focused on caries, dental history, tooth retention, edentulism (tooth loss), periodontal status, and prosthodontic status. It is clear from the most recent NHANES surveys that for most Americans, oral health has improved since the 1980s. What follows are some of the most significant findings of the last few surveys.