Proposed 2020 targets for better oral health in Europe

The Platform for Better Oral Health believes that European decision makers could further improve the situation in a cost-effective way by focusing more on the promotion of oral health and the prevention of oral diseases. Of particular importance is the need to improve the collection of data and to consider oral health as an integral part of general health and address risk factors common to many other chronic conditions, which include diet, smoking and alcohol use.

Better data collection systems

  • Create an EU-funded permanent European oral health surveillance and data collection network, which gathers standardised data from each EU country annually.
  • All EU Member States should establish consistent methodologies and systems for reporting oral health data across Europe and report data every two years on the same years.
  • EU-funding is dedicated to bridging the oral health data gap, especially in areas where there are no data or data are very poor (such as estimating the prevalence of periodontal diseases, community-based research on the social determinants of health).

Preventive policies

  • All population groups should have access to oral health care based on needs.
  • All EU Member States should have developed a specific national oral health prevention strategy or action plan, based on central EU guidelines. These strategies should reflect the common risk factor approach, take into consideration specific at-risk groups and integrate specific oral health targets in national health and health research programmes.
  • All EU Member States should have addressed the increasing oral health inequalities by developing health promotion programmes focusing on good oral hygiene practices, the use of fluoride, healthy dietary habits, sugar reduction and the promotion of sugar alternatives, as well as on the broader social, behavioural and environmental determinants of health.
  • A permanent mechanism for European coordination between Health Ministries, Chief Dental Officers, Chief Medical Officers and Chief Nurses Officers with the European Commission has been created and meets regularly to assess and improve oral health prevention strategies.
  • Based on an EU health workforce plan, each EU Member State should develop an oral health team (involving dentists, dental hygienists, dental nurses, etc.) with appropriate skills to care for the oral health of the population.
  • Each EU Member State should recognise the role of oral health clinicians in prevention and general health, including tobacco cessation advice, and oral cancer diagnosis responsibilities.
  • Each EU Member State should integrate oral health in national curricula for all healthcare practitioners (doctors, pharmacists, nurses, nutritionists etc.) and in their continuing professional development.
  • Carers for the elderly at home and in institutions for the elderly, as well as those for orphan children and those with special needs, should be trained in and routinely provide daily oral hygiene for those in their care.

Education and awareness

  • Each EU Member State should have developed national/regional school-based oral health prevention programmes in primary and secondary schools and/or integrated oral health advice in curricula of primary and secondary schools. These programmes may include free dental check-ups and especially aim to teach children and teenagers good oral hygiene practices, the use of fluoride, healthy dietary habits, sugar reduction and the use of sugar alternatives.
  • All universities/dental schools in Europe should have integrated in their curricula the Competence Domain “prevention and health promotion” – encompassing the graduating dentists’ competences at promoting and improving the oral health of individuals, families and groups, as described in the Association for Dental Education in Europe (ADEE) published document “Profile and competences for the graduating European dentist”.
  • All EU Member States should have developed a national public health campaign to raise citizen’s awareness of oral health and impulse good prevention habits and tobacco cessation behaviours.

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  • 2020 targets for better oral health in Europe

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