In direction of higher oral well being in Europe
In direction of higher oral well being in Europe
Picture © Edwin Tan | iStock

Georgios Tsakos, Dympna Kavanagh, and Nigel Carter, argue that now could be the time for public well being motion in the direction of higher oral well being in Europe

Oral illnesses are public well being issues and have a big affect on common well being and well-being in all ages throughout the course of life. As such, the World Well being Group (WHO) has lately adopted a worldwide technique for oral well being.(1) This can be a world initiative, and Europe should take the result in drive the agenda ahead. It’s time for motion to enhance oral well being and tackle well being inequalities, which needs to be mirrored within the EU’s public well being priorities.

Oral illnesses are among the many commonest non-communicable illnesses (NCDs), affecting round 3.5 billion folks worldwide (2) in response to the WHO – which quantities to nearly half of the world’s inhabitants.(3) The variety of folks affected by untreated oral illnesses globally is about 1 billion larger than these affected by all 5 main non-communicable illnesses (psychological problems, heart problems, diabetes mellitus, continual respiratory illnesses and cancers) mixed.(1) Dental caries is essentially the most prevalent NCD globally, continual extreme periodontitis (gum illness) is the sixth most prevalent NCD, extreme lack of pure enamel can also be widespread amongst older adults, and oral and lip cancers are widespread, notably amongst males.

The burden of oral circumstances

Furthermore, oral circumstances have a substantial burden on people and societies. Throughout the EU, €90 billion was spent on treating oral circumstances, an estimate larger than that for dementia and respiratory illnesses and on par with the expenditure for most cancers.(4) The true affect on the financial system and society goes a lot additional than merely the price of remedy. It consists of facets comparable to time without work work and productiveness loss, kids being absent from faculty and attaining worse academic outcomes.(5)

There may be additionally ample analysis proof documenting the unfavorable affect of oral circumstances on the standard of life of people and their households. A wholesome mouth is important for consuming, talking, speaking, self-confidence and well-being and varieties an integral a part of good well being and performance all through life. Certainly, oral illnesses exert a substantial burden on quality-adjusted life expectancy; subsequently, enhancements in folks’s dental well being could yield substantial positive aspects in inhabitants well being and well-being. (6)

Like all different NCDs, oral illnesses are socially patterned, and there are extreme inequalities in oral well being. The decrease socioeconomic and extra susceptible teams in European societies face a disproportionately larger burden of oral illnesses and their penalties.(7) Regardless of all that, oral well being tends to be largely ignored within the EU well being coverage debate. That is tough to justify, notably if one considers that oral illnesses are each preventable and treatable.

Associations between oral & common well being

With an ever-increasing wealth of proof on the associations between oral and common well being, (8) the mouth can not proceed to be thought-about in isolation from the remainder of the physique. For instance, periodontal (gum) illnesses are related to diabetes, whereas the retention of pure enamel is related to higher well being and performance in older ages. Oral illnesses additionally share danger components widespread to main NCDs, together with alcohol, tobacco, and sugar consumption. (9) For instance, smoking raises the chance of oral most cancers and coronary heart illness, stroke, continual lung illness, and sort 2 diabetes, whereas sugar is a key danger issue for diabetes, weight problems, and dental caries. The oral well being workforce is effectively positioned to advertise prevention and cessation practices on these danger components. Nonetheless, most well being methods have but to totally combine oral well being professionals into well being promotion and preventive methods on widespread danger components for NCDs in Europe.

Addressing these widespread danger components in some ways holds the important thing to attaining good well being for all residents. This primarily requires an emphasis on selling well being and lowering inequalities by public well being motion on the broader determinants of well being.(10) Related insurance policies and incentives comparable to sugar taxes (11) and alcohol labeling (12) have yielded optimistic leads to international locations the place they’ve been carried out. Investing in good oral well being could have essential trickle-down results on common well being.

The latest landmark WHO World Technique on Oral Well being, adopted on the seventy fifth World Well being Meeting in Might 2022, represents an acknowledgment of the numerous burden oral illnesses pose on the worldwide inhabitants. The accompanying WHO Motion Plan for 2023-2030 suggests plenty of actions to deal with this burden, together with the supply of important oral healthcare companies as a part of common well being protection.

Addressing oral well being inequalities

It’s time for motion to enhance oral well being and tackle oral well being inequalities, and Europe should take the lead on this effort. A robust public well being focus in relation to oral well being needs to be mirrored within the EU’s well being priorities. Specializing in well being promotion, lowering well being inequalities and together with oral well being in common well being protection will result in more healthy EU residents and scale back general healthcare expenditure. The Platform for Higher Oral Well being in Europe* stays dedicated to its mission to safe European motion on oral well being and assist the European Union and WHO Regional Workplace for Europe in implementing the WHO’s World Technique on Oral Well being.

* The Platform for Higher Oral Well being in Europe is a joint initiative of the important thing European organizations concerned in oral well being, together with the Affiliation for Dental Training in Europe (ADEE), the Council of European Chief Dental Officers (CECDO), the European Affiliation of Dental Public Well being (EADPH), the Oral Well being Basis and the Pan-European Area of the Worldwide Affiliation for Dental Analysis (PER-IADR) in addition to 20 Affiliate Members.


  2. World oral well being standing report: in the direction of common well being protection for oral well being by 2030. Geneva: World Well being Group; 2022.
  3. WHO (2022). WHO highlights oral well being neglect affecting practically half of the world’s inhabitants. Obtainable on-line at
  4. Peres MA, Macpherson LMD, Weyant RJ, Daly B, Venturelli R, Mathur MR, Listl S, Celeste RK, Guarnizo-Herreño CC, Kearns C, Benzian H, Allison P, Watt RG. Oral illnesses: a worldwide public well being problem. Lancet. 2019;394(10194):249-260. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(19)31146-8.
  5. Rebelo MAB, Rebelo Vieira JM, Pereira JV, Quadros LN, Vettore MV. Does oral well being affect faculty efficiency and faculty attendance? A scientific assessment and meta-analysis. Int J Paediatr Dent. 2019; 29: 138-148. doi: 10.1111/ipd.12441.
  6. Matsuyama Y, Tsakos G, Listl S, Aida J, Watt RG. Impression of Dental Ailments on High quality-Adjusted Life Expectancy in US Adults. J Dent Res. 2019;98(5):510- 516. doi: 10.1177/0022034519833353.
  7. Guarnizo-Herreno CC, Watt RG, Pikhart H, Sheiham A, Tsakos G. Socioeconomic inequalities in oral well being in several European welfare state regimes. J Epidemiol Neighborhood Well being. 2013;67(9):728-735.
  8. Platform for Higher Oral Well being in Europe. Placing the mouth again within the physique. Coverage place paper 2016 (accessible by:
  9. Watt RG, Sheiham A. Integrating the widespread danger issue strategy right into a social determinants framework. Neighborhood Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2012;40(4):289-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0528.2012.00680. x.
  10. Watt RG, Daly B, Allison P, Macpherson LMD, Venturelli R, Listl S, Weyant RJ, Mathur MR, Guarnizo-Herreño CC, Celeste RK, Peres MA, Kearns C, Benzian H. Ending the neglect of worldwide oral well being: time for radical motion. Lancet. 2019;394(10194):261-272. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(19)31133-X.
  11. Weight problems Proof Hub (nd). International locations which have taxes on sugar-sweetened drinks (SSBs). Obtainable on-line at
  12. Jané-Llopis, E., et al. (2020). WHO Well being Proof Community synthesis report 68: What’s the present alcohol labeling apply within the WHO European Area and what are limitations and facilitators to the event and implementation of alcohol labeling coverage? Obtainable on-line at with/10665/332129/9789289054898-eng.pdf?ua=1

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