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Activity 2: Data Collection and Surveillance

Infrastructure Development Tools

Monitoring the status of oral disease in a state's population is essential for setting achievable objectives, as well as for planning, implementing, and evaluating public health programs. It is also important for illustrating the burden of oral disease and for gaining support and funding for the state oral health program.

To develop a state oral health surveillance system, oral health programs should assess the currently available assets, such as data sources that already include an oral health component, and other state resources and capacity that can be used to augment those of the oral health program.

To develop a dedicated oral health surveillance system:

  • Conduct surveillance of oral diseases so that key oral health indicators (e.g., state fluoridation status, caries experience, and complete tooth loss) are collected using standard approaches (see Basic Screening Survey) with attention to comparability across states.
  • Identify available data on the oral health status of the population using existing data sources including, but not limited to BRFSS, YRBS, PRAMS, and aging surveys.
  • Utilize epidemiological support for expertise and technical assistance.

Once data sources have been identified, determine gaps in the data for missing priority populations.

  • Develop a plan for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating data. The plan should clearly outline the data sources available, how often it will be collected, and who will collect the data. For one planning tool, see the CDC Surveillance Logic Model [PDF–70K].

Upon completion or identification of a surveillance system and the subsequent development of a surveillance plan, a state will develop an oral disease burden document. This document should be created within the first two years of CDC funding.

An oral disease burden document describes the status of oral diseases (e.g., dental caries, periodontal disease, total tooth loss) in a state, including any disparities in oral disease status among population groups. It may also discuss the ability of a state's program to meet these needs by including a description of existing state oral health assets, such as professional dental and dental hygiene education programs and intervention programs that focus on preventing oral diseases.

This document should include current data, preferably no older than five years, and indicators consistent with the National Oral Health Surveillance System (NOHSS), Water Fluoridation Reporting System (WFRS), and Synopses of State and Territorial Dental Public Health Programs (State Synopses).

Although a burden document is intended to give a complete representation of a state's oral disease burden, it may be too long to present to decision makers. A state also may develop much shorter pieces (one to two pages) from the burden document to brief decision makers about oral health issues.

Other recommended surveillance activities include:

States with adequate capacity may enhance the oral health surveillance system by annually maintaining and sustaining the surveillance plan and subsequent surveillance system. Additionally, advanced states may wish to conduct or support original data collection and submit a report of findings. This may be done in partnership with academia or other health agency partners.

Additional Resources

Capacity Building Expectations for Oral Health Surveillance [PDF–19K]

Updated Guidelines for Evaluating Public Health Surveillance Systems. MMWR, July 27, 2001;50(RR13):1–35.

ASTDD Basic Screening Survey Tools

ASTDD Best Practice Approach: State-based Oral Health Surveillance System [PDF–222K]

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