Global Challenges Remain in Oral Health

Dentistry Today


Despite some improvements in the oral health of populations globally, major problems remain, according to researchers at the King’s College London Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences. These problems most notably occur among underprivileged communities of low- and middle-income countries as well as in more high-income countries, the researchers said.

In July 2019, the Lancet published an issue on oral health spotlighting these challenges, but more work is needed to bridge the gap between dental research and global health and to get oral health recognized as a population health priority worldwide, the researchers said.

Now, the researchers argue, a global health network for oral health must be harnessed to influence global health policy and drive health system reform. From their experience working in the global health arena and with collaborators in multi-disciplinary teams, the researchers have identified challenges around four key areas:

  • Problem definition
  • Positioning
  • Coalition-building
  • Governance

How well the dental profession addresses these challenges will shape its performance during the Sustainable Development Goals era and beyond, the researchers said. The researchers also noted that there are fundamental gaps in knowledge, particularly in three areas of oral health action:

  • Epidemiology and health information systems
  • Collection, harmonization, and rigorous assessment of evidence for prevention, equity, and treatment
  • Optimal strategies for delivering essential, quality care to all who need it without facing financial hardship

The study, “Role of Dentistry in Global Health: Challenges and Research Priorities,” was published by the Journal of Dental Research.

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