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Conceptual Model for Influences on Children's Oral Health

September 7, 2007

In a 1929 magazine advertisement for a popular American dentifrice, the headline warned, “Nobody’s immune: Danger lurks behind white teeth.”  But with little or no hard science packed into this tube of dentifrice, most Americans fought a chronic and often losing battle against tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.  Following World War II, the NIDCR launched the first water fluoridation study in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the nation’s toothpaste manufacturers began to tout the scientifically validated benefits of fluoride in fighting tooth decay.  In the decades that followed, the rates of tooth decay followed a downward slope that marked one of the great public-health advances of the 20th century.  But this advance has yet to culminate in total victory.  For millions of American kids today, particularly those in underserved populations, danger continues to lurk even behind white teeth.  In the September issue of the journal Pediatrics, a group of NIDCR grantees offer a conceptual model that integrates a range of current scientific and social influences on children’s oral health.  As the authors state, “The model supplies a framework for research, for policy-making, and for more effective resource allocation to improve children’s oral health.” 


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This page last updated: February 26, 2014