The British Dental Association (BDA) believes the UK needs to ‘close the gap’ between socioeconomic conditions that lead to bad oral health.
To mark World Oral Health Day 2014, Peter Ward, chief executive of the BDA, today addressed the ‘new challenges’ facing oral disease in the UK.
He says: ‘Caries is highly prevalent among the poor and disadvantaged, but it is now highly preventable – but it relies upon compliance and putting across beneficial oral health messages to poor socioeconomic areas.’
Nearly 100% of adults and between 60-90% of children worldwide have dental caries, resulting in missed days in work and school.
And while tooth decay in the UK fares ‘very well’ compared to the rest of the world, periodontal disease is still highly prevalent among people over the age of 45.
‘There have been massive improvements in oral health in the UK over the last 30 years – stories of severe tooth decay are now mostly stories of the past.’
But Peter adds: ‘As one problem is solved, a different one emerges.’
Professor David Williams, professor of global oral health at the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, believes bettering oral health lies in ‘reducing the risk early on’.
He says: ‘Look in the mouth of any child – it is always a sensitive indicator of an on-communicable disease, including oral diseases.
‘We need to tackle social determinants of oral health inequalities, such as implementing strategies and policies that focus on all levels of socioeconomic status – not just the poor or the wealthy.’
More than 100 countries and 70 national dental associations are celebrating World Oral Health Day 2014, with more than 150 activities taking place today.
An attempt to break a national record for the highest number of people brushing simultaneously is taking place in Malaysia and free restorative treatments are being provided for children in Rwanda.
Yaya Touré, Manchester City FC player, is this year’s World Oral Health Day ambassador. He has filmed a short advertisement that will be played on the NASDAQ screen on Times Square, New York City.
FDI World Dental Federation has also published The Tooth Thief – an illustrated story for children that includes oral health tips.
To find out more about World Oral Health Day 2014, an FDI World Dental Federation initiative, visit the website at www.worldoralhealthday.com.