This article presents an integrative literature review that analyses the advances and challenges in oral health care of the Brazilian primary health care system, based on a political agenda that envisages re-organising the unified health system (SistemaÚnico de Saúde – SUS). It is presumed that the actions suggested by the Alma-Ata Conference of 1978 are still up-to-date and relevant when adapted to the situation in Brazil. Several studies and policies are reviewed, including works demonstrating the importance of primary care as an organising platform in an integrated health-care network, Brazil's strategy for reorganising the primary care network known as the Family Health Strategy, and the National Oral Health Policy. This review discusses results obtained over the last twenty years, with special attention paid to changes in oral health-care practices, as well as the funding of action programmes and assistance cover. The conclusion is that oral healthcare in the Brazilian primary health care system has advanced over the past decades; however, serious obstacles have been experienced, especially with regard to the guarantee of universal access to services and funding. The continuous efforts of public managers and society should focus on the goal of achieving universal coverage for all Brazilians.