Dental - Oral Health Services


Oral diseases are among the most prevalent health problems in Tennessee and oral diseases affect a significant number of children and adolescents in every county. Population-based surveys reveal that certain segments of the population (low socioeconomic groups, minorities, and those living in fluoride-deficient communities) are at a high risk for oral diseases and are the least likely to be able to access private dental care.

The program's goal is a component of the Department's overall goal To protect, promote and improve the health of people living in, working in and visiting the State of Tennessee. In accomplishing this goal, the Oral Health Services Section provides programs for the prevention of oral disease and education of the public regarding the value of good oral health. In addition, the program identifies those without access to dental care and attempts to assure basic care, as well as care for acute dental conditions.

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  • To encourage all community water systems in this state to initiate or continue fluoridation and, when necessary, purchase fluoridation equipment for non-fluoridating community water supplies.
  • To monitor fluoridation levels in all community water systems that are fluoridated.
  • To provide alternative fluoride programs to targeted children who are at high risk for dental caries, including:
  • Weekly and biannual fluoride mouth rinse,
    • Daily fluoride tablets,
    • Biannual, self-applied fluoride paste or gel, and
    • Fluoride varnish applied by public health nurses in public health clinics.
  • To provide school-age children with other proven oral disease prevention and control programs that include school-based:
    • Pit and fissure sealant application and follow-up,
    • Screening, prioritizing, and referring children needing dental care,
    • Daily tooth brushing programs, and
    • Topical fluoride applications.
    • To conduct oral health education programs through both in-service training for teachers and direct oral health education in the classroom.
    • To provide technical assistance and help coordinate statewide public health dental clinics that provide dental care to segments of the population that have difficulty accessing care.
    • To monitor the prevalence and severity of oral diseases through periodic statewide oral health assessments.
    • To conduct a limited amount of applied research and evaluate programs, methods, and agents to determine their effectiveness in the prevention and control of oral diseases.