Oral health and noncommunicable diseases

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, are one of the major challenges for health and sustainable human development. To date, the global NCD response has focused on the four major NCDs – cardiovascular (heart) disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases. However, there is a range of other conditions, including oral diseases, that are linked to the four most prominent NCDs. In fact, oral diseases are among the most common and preventable NCDs worldwide, and they are generally related to the same risk factors associated with over 100 NCDs.

Oral diseases and other NCDs share modifiable risk factors, including tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets, as well as the same socio-economic determinants. Accordingly, it is essential to adopt a common risk factor approach and fully integrate oral health into NCD prevention and control and broader health strategies. With the growing burden of oral disease and NCDs worldwide, there is an urgent need for local, national, regional and global action.

Though not an area of major focus historically, oral health and NCDs have garnered renewed attention and increased political momentum in recent years. The turning point for the oral health and NCD community was in 2011 with the adoption of the United Nations Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of NCDs. For the first time, NCDs were recognized as a global health priority and oral diseases were specifically referenced as a major health burden. The Declaration was also a step forward in recognizing that oral health and NCDs do not exist in isolation from one another and can benefit from a comprehensive and integrated response.

To accelerate action on oral health and NCDs, FDI works closely with our members and network of established partners. We prioritize collaboration with other health areas, especially NCDs. For this reason, FDI collaborates with the NCD Alliance – one of our strategic partners –  so that together we can accomplish common goals by tackling cross-cutting issues (such as co-morbidities and common risk factors) to improve oral health and reduce the NCD burden.

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