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 recent 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 1999–2004.9 The most recent paper reported on the information from the 2005-2008 survey.10 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 survey that for most Americans, oral health has improved since the 1980s. What follows are some of the most significant findings of the survey: