Economy’s impact on oral health to rise

Following attendance at one-day conference ‘Are we taking enough care of our teeth? The case for a European oral health policy’ at the European Parliament in Brussels, the British Dental Health Foundation has welcomed The State of Oral Health in Europe report and a number of key recommendations. 

The report has been launched ahead of World Oral Health Day on 12 September.

The report states that despite a reduction in global caries, those from poorer backgrounds will still be plagued by dental disease.

Access to oral healthcare services remains ‘a major health problem’, while the economic impact of oral health-related problems is forecast to rise by 2020.

The report has also identified that half of the European population may suffer from severe gum disease, a leading cause of tooth loss among adults.

Chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, welcomed the recommendations put forward in the report.

He said: 'The Foundation unequivocally supports the policy recommendations detailed in the report.  Addressing existing oral health inequalities is a vital step towards improving oral health across the globe.

'By educating the public on prevention and better oral hygiene practices, a key aim of the Foundation, we hope to see a further reduction in the level of gum disease and tooth decay seen globally.  These are two highly prevalent yet highly preventable diseases, and although we have seen vast improvements over a number of years, there’s a collective responsibility to review our oral hygiene routine and seek ways in which improve it.'

The policy recommendations include:

– Develop a coherent European strategy to improve oral health with commitments to quantifiable targets by 2020
– Improve the data and knowledge base by developing common methodologies and bridging the research gap in oral health promotion
– Support the development of cross-sectoral approaches with health and social care professions and support the development of the dental workforce
– Address increasing oral health inequalities and knowledge of prevention/oral hygiene practices of the public and guarantee availability and access to high quality and affordable oral health care
–  Encourage best practice sharing across countries

Tackling oral cancer, the eighth most common cancer worldwide, also remains a high priority. In Europe, lip and cancer of the oral cavity is the 12th most common cancer in men. Mouth Cancer Action Month, taking place throughout November, is the UK’s largest mouth cancer campaign dedicated to raising awareness of the signs, symptoms and risk factors associated with the disease.

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