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National Oral Health Surveillance System


Complete Tooth Loss: Complete tooth loss (edentulism) is the loss of all natural teeth. It can substantially reduce quality of life, self-image, and daily functioning.

Confidence Interval: The computed interval with a given probability (i.e., 95%) that the true value of the statistic梥uch as a mean, proportion, or rate梚s contained within the interval.

Dental Visits: Regular use of the oral health care delivery system leads to better oral health by providing an opportunity for clinical preventive services and early detection of oral diseases. Infrequent users of dental services have more decayed teeth, more severe periodontal diseases, and are more likely to lose all of their teeth.

Fluoridation Status: Status of a community water system in regards to water fluoridation level. Most water contains some amount of natural fluoride. Fluoridation involves adjusting fluoride in the water to the level optimal for the prevention of dental caries. The recommended amount of fluoride in water systems is 0.7�2 ppm (parts per million), which is equivalent to 0.7�2 mg/L (milligrams per liter).

Naturally Fluoridated Water: Water systems are considered to be naturally fluoridated if they contain naturally occurring fluoride at 0.7 ppm or more.

Nonfluoridated: Water systems are considered to be nonfluoridated if they contain less than 0.7 ppm fluoride.

Periodontal Diseases: Periodontal diseases include gingivitis and periodontitis. Both are inflammatory conditions of the gingival tissues (gum tissues around the teeth). In more severe forms, periodontitis includes loss of supporting bone tissue which can lead to tooth loss.

Private Water Supply: Individual water systems, generally wells and springs, serving one or several residences.

Public Water Supply System (PWS): A public water system provides water for human consumption to the public through piped or other constructed conveyances. A PWS has at least 15 service connections or regularly serves an average of at least 25 individuals daily for at least 60 days out of the year.  Ground water sources, surface water sources, or a combination of the two sources may provide water to a PWS. In some cases, one PWS may purchase all or part of its water from another PWS.

Representative Sample: The sample represents the population on important characteristics, such as geographic area, age, sex, race/ethnicity, income, and education level.

Sampling Error: "Sampling error arises because the statistic is computed on a subset of the population being studied." (Groves RM. Survey Errors and Survey Costs. John Wiley and Sons, NY, 1989, p. 11) Sampling error may be reduced when random sampling designs are used, and when large sample sizes are used.

Teeth Cleaning: A dentist or dental hygienist removes soft debris, stain, and hard deposits (calculus or tartar) on the teeth that cannot be removed by brushing and flossing. Regular teeth cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist helps prevent periodontal diseases.

Tooth Decay: Tooth decay is the commonly known term for dental caries, an infectious, transmissible, disease caused by bacteria. The damage done to teeth by this disease is commonly known as cavities. Tooth decay can cause pain and lead to infections in surrounding tissues and tooth loss if not treated properly.

Page last reviewed: October 30, 2008
Page last modified: December 12, 2006
Content Source: Division of Oral Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion


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