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Proposal for setting up a EUPHA section on Oral health 

We are a group of dental public health professionals and members of the European Association of Dental Public Health (EADPH) interested in setting up an oral health section within EUPHA. This proposal aims to establish a section within EUPHA on Prevention of Oral Diseases as oral health is integral to general health. One reason for establishing an oral health section hinges on a common risk factor approach to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and tackling health inequalities.

Background

In recognition that NCDs share common risk factors with oral health, Dr Natasha Azzopardi Muscat, the current President of EUPHA was invited as a keynote speaker to the recent EADPH conference in Palma De Mallorca (2018) to improve collaboration between EADPH and EUPHA. EADPH is already a partner organisation in EUPHA. Members of the EADPH have attended EUPHA meetings in the past.

The mouth cannot be considered in isolation from the rest of the body; oral health is being increasingly linked with other general health and systemic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, respiratory diseases and cancers. One example of potential multidisciplinary work is the impact of sugars on oral and general health. Evidence from systematic reviews and meta-analysis have demonstrated associations between sugars consumption and a myriad of chronic diseases and conditions including dental caries, weight gain and obesity, type II diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases. The WHO’s Global Action Plan on NCDS 2013-2020 clearly recommends the reduction in consumption of free sugars in food and drinks for better oral and general health outcomes.

A second example is the benefits of tobacco control on both the general and oral health. General health outcomes include reduced incidence of ischaemic heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Tobacco control can result in improved oral health outcomes reducing the prevalence of periodontal diseases and head and neck cancer. It was surprising to note that the monitoring report on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control showed that only 52 countries stated their dentists were involved in tobacco control in some form. It is recommended that health care workers including dental teams should be offering tobacco advice routinely to their patients.

Furthermore, the dental health workforce is a powerful ally within the public health network. The dental workforce has the advantage of delivering evidenced-based health advice to children, adolescents and adults on a regular basis and therefore can contribute to tackling NCDs and health inequalities.

Considering that tooth decay is one of the most prevalent conditions worldwide, prevention can only be achieved with collaboration with public health. Therefore, we would like to raise the importance of oral health in the context of general health.

Aim of the oral health section: 

To contribute to the prevention of oral diseases in the context of better general health and thereby addressing health inequalities

Objectives:

  1. To contribute to the achievement of SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) including universal health coverage
  2. To build on the partnership between EADPH and EUPHA and to adopt inter-disciplinary collaborations with different sections of EUPHA -putting oral health on everybody’s agenda.
  3. To disseminate evidence-based knowledge  and give guidance to public health professionals and policy makers to support implementation, monitoring and evaluation of strategies and interventions
  4. To adopt inter-professional collaboration in terms of policy, education and practice and contribute to capacity building of the future public health workforce
  5. To strengthen partnership with external stakeholders  including WHO, WFPHA, local public health associations, the EU Commission, FDI (World Dental Federation)
  6. To organise inter-disciplinary workshops

Steering Committee for the Oral Health Section

Members of the Steering Committee for Oral Health have already been identified who are geographically distributed to represent all areas across Europe and from different positions to advocate for oral health. The Committee met in London on 18th January 2019 to draft this proposal and prepare for the next steps. The Steering Committee for Oral Health will submit a workshop on the conference theme in Marseille- ‘Building bridges between oral and general health to tackle health inequalities-the case for sugar’.

Dr Paula Vassallo-Chair
Dr. Vassallo is a Consultant in Dental Public Health and is currently the Director of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Malta with the Government of Malta and is actively involved in promoting health in Malta.  She is a lecturer in Preventive and Community Dentistry and Dental Public Health at the University of Malta. Dr Vassallo is Vice President of the European Association of Dental Public Health. She is a board member of the European Chief Dental Officers.  She is also member of the health research group of the Institute of Small Island States.  She is Past President of the Council of European Chief Dental Officers and is immediate past Chairperson of the Platform for Better Oral health in Europe. She has also chaired the Working Group of Oral Health in The CED (Council of European Dentists) and was responsible for guiding the development of CED policies related to oral health issues

Dr Colwyn Jones is the current President of the European Association of Dental Public Health.  He has retired as a Consultant in Dental Public Health in the NHS in Scotland, and continues as an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh.  His research interests include public health approaches to improving oral and general health, and effective ways to reduce health inequalities.

Dr. Benoit Varenne is the Oral Health Programme Officer at the World Health Organization. The objective of his position is to lead WHO’s work on the global agenda on oral health. In prior years, Benoit worked in consulting firms as a public health consultant for several years, as a consultant for WHO in the Eastern Mediterranean region and worked closely with numerous NGOs and other international health organizations. He has assisted ministries of health and health care planners in several part of the world with a special focus on the African continent. Benoit Varenne graduated in medical dentistry in 1993 at the University of Clermont-Ferrand, France and holds a PhD in Public Health and Epidemiology from University of Pierre and Marie Curie (Paris VI). In addition to France, Benoit Varenne has studied in community health at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

George Tsakos is a Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL. He also holds Honorary Consultant in Dental Public Health. He has served as President of the European Association of Dental Public Health (EADPH) and is currently Chair Elect of the Platform for Better Oral Health in Europe. He is also an International Association of Dental Research (IADR) Councillor representing the Behavioural Epidemiological and Health Services Research group. George is a founding and core member of the International Centre for Oral Health Inequalities and Policy (ICOHIRP). his main research interests are on: subjective outcome measures of oral health and quality of life, oral health inequalities and the social determinants of health, ageing and oral health, and the relationship between oral and general health.

Professor Magnus Hakeberg holds a degree in dentistry and is also a specialist in Endodontology. He is professor of dental public health at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. His research focus around subjective and objective health indicators relative to social and psychological determinants. In addition the clinical research activities deal with dental anxiety/phobia and treatment modalities.

Dr Ruxandra Sava Rosianu is a lecturer at the Department of Preventive, Community Dentistry and Oral Health, within the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Victor Babes” Timisoara. During her professional activity, she has collaborated to edit different didactic materials for students from the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th year of the Faculty of Dentistry. She is an editor for two scientific journals: Medicine in Evolution and Oral Health and Dental Management. She is a member of the European Association of Dental Public Health since 2008, and a member of the Steering Committee to set up a EUPHA section on Oral Health.

Dr Huda Yusuf is a clinical lecturer and the lead for Dental Public Health for undergraduate programmes at Queen Mary University of London. She is also a Consultant in Dental Public Health for Public Health England. She is an academic member for the Speciality Advisory Committee on dental public health at the Royal College of Surgeons in England. Her main research interests are developing and evaluating interventions to reduce sugars consumption in children and training of the wider workforce to promote health and reduce health inequalities.

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