Friday, August 24, 2012

[EQ] Global oral public health - the current situation and recent developments

Global oral public health – the current situation and recent developments

Kenneth A Eaton

President, European Association of Dental Public Health

Journal of Public Health Policy (2012) 33, 382–386. doi:10.1057/jphp.2012.22


“……In many countries, oral health has a relatively low priority. This is perhaps unsurprising because, with the exception of oro-pharyngeal cancer, very few people die as a direct result of oral diseases.

Painful or unsightly teeth and periodontal tissues (gums) and oral infection can, however, have a variety of consequences leading to a reduced quality of life and considerable expense. In 2000, some 50 billion Euros was spent directly on oral health in the then 15 Member States of the European Union.1 Indirect costs, because of such factors as time off work and poor performance at school, add substantially to this cost.


In addition, isolation of dentists from the mainstream of health care has led to relatively little interest in oral health by health planners.

Why? One reason is that in North America and North West Europe, for over a century, dentists have been educated separately from medical doctors and undergo an Odontological education, which, although it includes perhaps 50 per cent of a medical course, has historically put an emphasis on the treatment of teeth and more recently the prevention of oral diseases. In Southern and Eastern Europe, until relatively recently, dentists underwent a Stomatological education in which they were trained as medical doctors before further education in dental procedures.

A second reason is that dentists generally practice in isolation from other health care workers, in what are effectively small businesses. From a public health point of view, dental public health is under-developed, and in Europe is recognised as a specialty in only three countries (Bulgaria, Finland, and the United Kingdom).2


This article explains why oral health should be fully integrated into health planning and public health, considering, in particular, the increasing emphasis placed on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and oral manifestations of infectious disease. It discusses current trends in oral diseases, and developments to raise the profile of oral health and integrate it into the mainstream of health planning and public health…..”



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