Oral Health

Oral health — the health of your mouth — is an important part of good overall health and well-being.

Nationally, more than half of children ages 6 to 19 have experienced tooth decay. In NYC, more than one in three third-grade students have untreated tooth decay. About nine in 10 adults in the U.S. have experienced tooth decay and nearly half of adults have gum disease. In NYC, one in four adults ages 65 and older have no teeth.

By taking simple measures, most oral health problems can be prevented. Preventing oral health problems can reduce health care expenses.

Tips for Good Oral Health

You can prevent gum disease and tooth decay by following these tips:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride and a soft bristled toothbrush.

  • Floss daily: The spaces between your teeth or under your gums can not be reached with a toothbrush. Learn the right way to floss.

  • Eat healthy. Limit the number of snacks throughout the day and avoid sugary and starchy snacks.

  • Drink tap water. The fluoride in New York City’s tap water helps prevent tooth decay.

  • Avoid tobacco. Tobacco significantly increases your risk for gum disease and mouth and throat cancer.

  • Limit alcohol. Heavy alcohol use increases the risk for mouth and throat cancer, especially when used in combination with tobacco.

  • Visit the dentist. Regular dental visits (PDF) help to prevent oral diseases and catch problems early, when they are easier to treat.

  • Ask about fluoride treatment. Speak to your dentist or doctor about topical fluoride, a coating that is painted on the teeth to prevent tooth decay.

Find a Dentist

The City offers several ways to find a dentist:

Insurance Coverage

If you do not have health insurance or need help renewing your plan, visit the Health Department: Enrollment Counselors page to learn more about the services they provide and how to make an appointment. Call 311 if you need further assistance with dental insurance.

Find out if you qualify for Medicaid and other state programs on the New York State Medicaid page.

Additional Resources

More Information