Dental Federation pushes governments to step up on World Oral Health Day
20 Mar 2023 --- On the occasion of World Oral Health Day (March 20), the FDI World Dental Federation is calling on governments and global health bodies to prioritize action against oral diseases.
This includes addressing oral health at the United Nations High Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage discussions in September.
“With oral diseases impacting billions of people every year, it is time for governments and global health agencies to draw a line in the sand and act,” says Dr. Ihsane Ben Yahya, president of FDI World Dental Federation and dean of the Dental Faculty at the Mohammed VI University of Health and Sciences in Morocco.
“That means ensuring equitable access to affordable, quality oral healthcare for all and making oral health central to plans for universal health coverage.”
In recent years, there has been increasing action against oral diseases at the global level. In 2021, countries supported a ground-breaking World Health Organization resolution on oral health.
Global Oral Health Action Plan (2023-2030), which calls on governments to ensure that 80% of the global population is entitled to essential oral healthcare services.This year, the 76th session of the World Health Assembly will adopt the
This would be achieved through countries prioritizing the integration of oral health into their national health services and ensuring there are enough trained dental health professionals, among other measures.
Taking a bite out of oral disease
Tooth decay is prevalent across the world. The WHO Global Oral Health Status Report (2022) estimates that oral diseases affect close to 3.5 billion people worldwide. Of these, an estimated two billion people suffer from caries of permanent teeth, and 514 million children suffer from caries of primary teeth.
“There has been a lot of focus in recent years on children’s oral health, and rightly so, but promoting mouth, teeth and gum health throughout life is equally as important,” says Anke Sentko, vice president of regulatory affairs and nutrition communication at Beneo.
“Although we associate sweet consumption with children, older people increasingly use hard candies to alleviate mouth dryness brought on by certain medications and other long-term health problems.”
“As part of life-long good oral hygiene, opting for sugar-free or -reduced products prolongs the time for regeneration, as well as remineralization (self-repairing effect) on the teeth, while the action of sucking and chewing creates saliva that gives overall relief to the mouth.”
She reveals that a recent survey showed that some European countries are more “tooth-conscious” than others – with Norway top of the list, Germany ranking third and the UK 12th. This shows that there is still work to be done to help people put in place good oral hygiene practices and continue these as they age, adds Sentko.
Industry’s role in dental support
The food, beverage and supplement industries have an important part to play in helping reduce cavities and promoting dental health.
Some of the latest research into oral health is exploring the oral microbiome and how best to support healthy bacteria – rather than targeting all bacteria with solutions like antiseptic mouthwashes.
Choosing feeds and beverages low in sugar can also play a pivotal role. Sentko names Beneo’s tooth-friendly ingredients as examples, including the sugar replacer isomalt and Palatinose – an alternative sugar.
These solutions offer manufacturers possibilities for creating chocolates, chewy candies and more that do not promote tooth decay while not compromising on taste.
In addition, both Beneo ingredients have an EU health claim for being tooth-friendly and contributing to tooth mineralization, as well as an FDA health claim for “not promoting tooth decay.”
Lastly, the consumers themselves have a role to play in promoting healthier teeth in gums. To inspire others to take care of their mouths, FDI is encouraging people around the world today to take a picture of their mouth and express what it means to them as part of its #MouthProud challenge on social media.
By Missy Green
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