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.
10 July, 2020