The report looks at a number of key areas of oral health the prevalence of oral diseases and their economic impact as well as best practices in oral health promotion. The report provides a set of key policy recommendations moving forward:
5 policy recommendations
- Develop a coherent European strategy to improve oral health with commitments to quantifiable targets by 2020
- Improve the data and knowledge base by developing common methodologies and bridging the research gap in oral health promotion
- Support the development of cross-sectoral approaches with health and social care professions and support the development of the dental workforce
- Address increasing oral health inequalities and knowledge of prevention/oral hygiene practices of the public and guarantee availability and access to high quality and affordable oral health care
- Encourage best practice sharing across countries
Some of the report’s key findings
Prevalence and trends of oral diseases
- Despite a global decline in caries, the disease still remains a problem for many groups of people in Eastern Europe, and for those from socio-economically deprived groups in all European Union Member States.
- Over 50% of the European population may suffer from some form of periodontitis and over 10% have severe disease, with prevalence increasing to 70-85% of the population aged 60- 65 years of age.
- Oral cancer is the eighth most common cancer worldwide. In the EU, lip and oral cavity cancer is the 12th most common cancer in men.
Economic impact of oral diseases
- Delivering oral health services is costly, accounting for 5% of total health expenditure and 16% of private health expenditure across OECD countries in 2009.
- The current EU 27 spending is close to €79 billion, and if the trends continue, this figure could be as high as €93 billion in 2020.
- Studies have also shown that the mouth is the most expensive part of the body to treat. Expenditure is likely to exceed that for cancer, heart disease, stroke or dementia.
- There is strong evidence that the benefits of preventing tooth decay exceed the costs of treatment.
Oral Health Inequalities
- Ensuring access to oral healthcare services remains a major health problem among vulnerable and low income groups. These individuals generally attend services less frequently than the general population, for primary care or emergency treatment when in pain, rather than for preventive indications.
Oral health policies
- A range of effective population-based preventative initiatives have been implemented across Europe. These include water fluoridation programmes (Ireland, Poland, Serbia, Spain, UK); fluoridated salt programmes (Switzerland, Slovakia, France, Germany and the Czech Republic) and fluoridated milk programmes targeting children (Bulgaria, UK).
- Oral health education programmes delivered in a school setting have demonstrated improvements in child dental health, especially when delivered alongside additional home support and community interventions (France, Germany, Ireland and UK).
The report was authored by Dr Reena Patel, with contributions from a pan-European team including, Prof. Kenneth Eaton, Chair of the Platform for Better Oral Health in Europe, Dr. Eduardo Chimenos Küstner, Professor of Oral Medicine, Faculty of Odontology, University of Barcelona, Prof. Heikki Murtomaa, Professor and Head ofDepartment of Oral Public Health, Institute of Dentistry, University of Helsinki, Prof. Eeva Widström, Specialist in Clinical Dentistry, National Research and Development Centre of Welfare and Health, Helsinki, and Prof. Dr. Stefan Zimmer, Head of Dental School, Scientific Director of the University, Witten/Herdecke University.