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1 Executive Summary Oral diseases and disorders in and of themselves affect health and well-being throughout life The burden of oral problems is extensive and may be particularly severe in vulnerable populations It includes the common dental diseases and other oral infections such as cold sores and candidiasis that can occur at any stage of life as well as birth defects in infancy and the chronic facial pain conditions and oral cancers seen in later years Many of these conditions and their treatments may undermine self-image and self-esteem discourage normal social interaction and lead to chronic stress and depression as well as incur great financial cost They may also interfere with vital functions such as breathing eating swallowing and speaking and with activities of daily living such as work school and family interactions Scientific research is key to further reduction in the burden of diseases and disorders that affect the face mouth and teeth The science base for dental diseases is broad and provides a strong foundation for further improvements in prevention for other craniofacial and oral health conditions the base has not yet reached the same level of maturity Scientific research has led to a variety of approaches to improve oral health through prevention early diagnosis and treatment We are well positioned to take these prevention measures further by investigating how to develop more targeted and effective interventions and devising ways to enhance their appropriate adoption by the public and the health professions The application of powerful new tools and techniques is important Their employment in research in genetics and genomics neuroscience and cancer has allowed rapid progress in these fields An intensified effort to understand the relationships between oral infections and their management and other illnesses and conditions is warranted along with the development of oral-based diagnostics These developments hold great promise for the health of the American people Basic behavioral and biomedical research clinical trials and population-based research have been at
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