Healthy Communities

Oral Health Surveillance

Oral Health Surveillance systems are designed to measure and monitor the burden of oral disease. Data collected can be used to:

Oral Health Data Deck

The purpose of the Oral Health Data Deck is to provide a comprehensive set of graphs and charts on the impacts of oral health preventative practices and risk factors. This project provides oral health-related data to program staff, organizations, and the public. The charts and graphs can be copied for use in other presentations or reports.

Unless otherwise indicated, the error bars on the graphs represent the 95% Confidence Intervals (CI). Confidence intervals are a way to quantify the certainty and variation in the data and/or random fluctuations over time or between groups. If the error bars for the 95% confidence intervals on the graph do not overlap, then the difference is considered statistically significant at the p < 0.05 level of significance.

For national and other state data, visit the National Oral Health Data Portal.

Arkansas 3rd Grade Basic Screening Survey 2019-2020

One key element to any oral health surveillance system is simple and consistent Basic Screening Survey (BSS) collection. The BSS tools were developed by the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors to provide states with a consistent model for monitoring oral disease in a timely manner, at the lowest possible cost, with minimum burden on survey participants, and that will support comparisons within and between states.


Tooth decay (cavities) is the most common disease in the United States among children. Children with untreated tooth decay can have tooth pain and infections. This can affect your child’s overall health, such as issues with eating, talking, playing, and learning.

One method to reduce the incidence of tooth decay at an early age is the application of dental sealants.

Why Is This Report Important?

This report is important to know the current oral health status of third-grade children in Arkansas.

We use the Basic Screening Survey (BSS) created by The Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) to gather information. The BSS is a tool that can help us, oral health advocates, researchers, policymakers, and other partners with important information for future programs and recommendations in Arkansas.

When Did The Survey Take Place?

During the 2019-2020 school year.

Where Did The Survey Take Place?

The dental hygienists traveled to the schools and performed the oral health screening. A total of 65 schools in Arkansas took part in the BSS.

What Information Was Collected From The Students?

We gathered the BSS information from Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) and the dental hygienist report to create the AR BSS Survey Collection:

About The Oral Health Condition Screening:

About The Students Who Took Part In The Survey:

Key Findings & Quick Facts:

What Did We Learn From These Results?

These results highlight the need to continue oral health interventions in Arkansas. Dental disease continues to affect the lives of many children in Arkansas. This also highlights the continued need for evidence-based practices for preventing oral disease to improve children’s oral health.

Another point this data highlighted were disparities (differences) based on race/ethnicity, geographic region (based on the Public Health Region), and house income (based on NSLP schools).

Differences between…


Oral health condition concern

Possible reasons for the difference


Hispanic students

A high percent of decay experience

  • Socioeconomic status
  • Language barrier
  • Uninsured for dental care
  • Legal status
  • Mistrust of health professionals
  • Additional studies can  help understand why Hispanic students had more decay experience



American students

1.) A high percent of untreated decay

2.) High percent of need for dental treatment

3.) The lowest percent of dental sealants

  • Socioeconomic status
  • A difficult relationship with the medical community
  • Mistrust for medical professionals
  • Uninsured for dental care
  • Additional studies can help understand why African American students had more untreated decay and need dental treatment

Geographic area (PHR)

Northeast PHR

1.) A high percent of untreated decay

2.) High percent in need of dental treatment, the urgent need for dental

3.) Low percent for the presence of dental sealants

  • Rural region of Arkansas that has counties with a short number of dental health professionals
  • Access to a dentist is still a primary concern
  • Low oral health literacy may also affect lack of participation in sealant programs


(socioeconomic status)

Students attending schools with 50% or more NSLP eligibility

1.) A high percent of decay experience

2.) High percent of untreated decay

3.) High percent need for dental treatment

  • Uninsured for dental care
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Access to dental care
  • Low number of dentists who participate as a Medicaid provider

How Can We Improve The BSS For Next Time?

One issue from this BSS is the percent of missing student background data from the Arkansas Department of Education. This will have to be considered in future surveys whether it would be better to collect student background and oral health screening at the same time.

What Next Steps Are We Taking Based On This BSS?

We must continue the work with oral health partners and stakeholders and strive in educating and providing resources to Arkansas communities to prevent oral health diseases, especially among those at an early age.

Recommendations for a healthy mouth include:

To read the full report, click here.


Public Health Accrediation Board
Arkansas Department of Health
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4815 W. Markham, Little Rock, AR 72205-3867