Consensus Sought on the Definition of Essential Oral Healthcare

Dentistry Today


The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the need for consensus on the definition of essential oral healthcare, according to researchers at the New York University College of Dentistry, who have developed a layered model that integrates urgent and basic oral healthcare as well as advanced and specialist oral healthcare.

Essential oral healthcare covers the most prevalent oral health problems but, by default, does not include the full spectrum of possible interventions that contemporary dentistry can provide, the researchers said.

A layered approach to the definition of essential oral healthcare allows for categorization and prioritization with available resources and needs in mind, they said. This model also includes a definition of basic oral healthcare and calls for oral healthcare to be recognized as an integral component of a healthcare system’s essential services.

“There is a significant need for evidence-based criteria to define which dental interventions are to be included in each category of essential oral healthcare. A lack of clearly defined essential oral healthcare services leaves people at risk for physical, mental, and social harm,” said Nicholas Jakubovics, editor in chief of the Journal of Dental Research.

“All stakeholders, including the research, academic, and clinical communities, need to work together to respond to this call for a consensus,” Jakubovics said.

The study, “Pandemic Considerations on Essential Oral Health Care,” was published by the Journal of Dental Research

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