National surveys are important tools for public health surveillance and thus key elements in monitoring health conditions and system performance. In the field of oral health, such surveys began with the oral health survey in 1986 and later in 1996 and with the SBBrasil Project in 2003. The 2010 edition of SBBrasil is the principal oral health surveillance strategy for the production of primary data. In order to contribute to this discussion, this article proposes: (a) to present and discuss the Brazilian experience with nationwide oral health surveys and (b) to discuss the use of data in health surveillance models. One can conclude that oral health surveys in Brazil have great possibilities as a tool for health services and academia. Such surveys have shown evident potential for verifying trends in the oral health profile, as well as for producing valid indicators for use in health services.
Dental Health Surveys; Oral Health; Epidemiologic Surveillance