NIH News Advisory
Office of the Director

Office of Medical Applications of Research

Wednesday, March 14, 2001
John Bowersox, NIH/OMAR
(301) 496-4819

Jody Dove, NIDCR
(301) 594-7558

NIH Consensus Panel Will Weigh Evidence on Best Ways to Prevent, Detect, and Treat Tooth Decay

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will hold a Consensus Development Conference on Diagnosis and Management of Dental Caries Throughout Life on March 26-28, 2001. The conference takes place in the William H. Natcher Building auditorium on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland and concludes with a news conference at 1:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 28, 2001.

Although great strides have been made in dental health in recent decades, dental caries, or tooth decay, remains common in the United States. Nearly 20 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 4 have had tooth decay and almost 80 percent of young people have had a cavity — a late manifestation of tooth decay — by age 17. More than two-thirds of adults ages 35 to 44 years have lost at least one permanent tooth due to decay, while one-fourth of those ages 65 to 74 have lost all of their natural teeth.

Water fluoridation, dental sealants, and regular professional dental care are among the safe and effective, though underused, measures currently available for preventing and treating dental caries. Scientific research continues to fuel remarkable progress in our understanding of the best ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent dental caries.

This conference will examine the current state of dental caries research to help health care providers and the general public make informed decisions about this important health issue. During the first day-and-a-half of the conference, experts will present the latest dental caries research findings to an independent, non-Federal consensus development panel. After weighing all of the scientific evidence, the panel will draft a statement that will be presented to the conference audience on the third day. The panel's statement will address the following key questions:

The panel will present its draft statement to the public for comment at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 28. Following this public comment session, the panel will release its revised consensus statement at a news conference at 1:00 p.m. and take questions from the media.

The consensus statement is the report of an independent panel and is not a policy statement of the NIH or the Federal Government.

The primary sponsors of this meeting are the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and the NIH Office of Medical Applications of Research. Cosponsors include the National Institute on Aging and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Additional information about this conference, including the meeting agenda, local area hotels, and directions to NIH, is available at the NIH Consensus Development Program Web site at

NOTE TO TV EDITORS: The news conference at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 28 will be broadcast live via satellite on the following coordinates: Telstar 6, Transponder 21; C-Band; Download Frequency=4120 vertical; Polarity=93 Degrees West. (Test time 12:30 - 1:00 p.m.)

NOTE TO RADIO EDITORS: An audio report of the conference results will be available after 4 p.m. March 28, 2001 from the NIH Radio News Service by calling 1-800-MED-DIAL (1-800-633-3425).

NIH Videocasting will broadcast the conference live on the Internet. Go to the NIH Videocast Web site — — any day during the conference and look for the link to the conference under "Today's Events."

If you require any assistance or assistive devices to participate in this conference, please contact Prospect Associates at 301-592-3320, or via e-mail at, at least 48 hours before the conference.

The Office of the Director is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.