USPSTF: Pediatric Oral Health Screening in Primary Care Evaluated Interview with:

Li Li, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.The Walter M. Seward Professor and Chair of Family Medicine
University of Virginia (UVA) School of Medicine
Director of Population Health at UVA Health

Dr. Li Li

Li Li, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.
The Walter M. Seward Professor and Chair of Family Medicine
University of Virginia (UVA) School of Medicine
Director of Population Health at UVA Health
Dr. Li joined the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in January 2021. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Oral health is an important part of everyone’s overall health and well-being. Recognizing this, the Task Force looked at whether primary care clinicians can play a role in complementing the work of dental professionals to prevent cavities and gum disease. What are the main findings?

Response:  Our review of the latest available evidence focused on the prevention of cavities for children who are 5 years old and older and do not have any signs or symptoms. After a thorough review, we found that there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against oral health screening and interventions for school-aged children in primary care settings. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: We need more research to address oral health in primary care settings, particularly in people who are more likely to experience oral health conditions. We also need to know more about the social factors that contribute to disparities in oral health. In the absence of evidence, healthcare professionals should use their judgment when deciding whether to screen or perform preventive interventions related to oral health for their patients who are 5 years old and older. What recommendations do you have for future research as a results of this study?

Response: It’s critical that future research is inclusive of populations with a high prevalence of oral health conditions, such as those who are Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, Alaska Native, and Pacific Islander. We also need more research that includes people who lack access to affordable dental care and experience other disadvantages, such as living in rural areas. Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response: It is important to note that these recommendations are for people without signs or symptoms. Of course, if a patient or family member shares any concerns about a child’s oral health, clinicians should ensure that they get connected to the care they need.


  • US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening and Preventive Interventions for Oral Health in Children and Adolescents Aged 5 to 17 Years: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. 2023;330(17):1666–1673.,whether%20to%20perform%20these%20services.doi:10.1001/jama.2023.21408

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Last Updated on November 13, 2023 by Marie Benz