Whole Mouth Health

Oral diseases affect approximately half of the global population (3.58 billion people), and they are the most common noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) worldwide. Oral diseases impact people throughout their lifetime and have been linked to maternal infections as well as systemic diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Improving health literacy for better oral health

Health literacy is the ability to understand and take action on health information and make decisions about personal well-being. Health literacy enables people to become autonomous in their health management and engage in informed health choices with their healthcare provider.

Limited oral health literacy disproportionality affects people in certain groups, contributing to challenges with health equity, in-turn leading to poorer health outcomes overall and an increased risk of dental caries and periodontal disease.

It is essential to make patients aware that good oral health does not stop at only brushing.

The Whole Mouth Health project was launched in 2019 to promote oral health literacy as important for everyday prevention, and to create a platform that focuses on oral health literacy by offering personalized dental health education in a way people can understand and apply to their lives.

Project goals

Identify the oral health literacy principles needed to achieve whole mouth health and to highlight the importance of patient understanding for better oral health outcomes

Provide tools and resources to empower clinicians to deliver patient-centred oral health messages and allow patients to make better oral health choices through an understanding of those messages

Advocate globally to promote oral health literacy as an important element of everyday prevention

Whole Mouth Health Statement

Maintaining a healthy microbiome plays a fundamental role in maintaining a healthy mouth and a healthy body. The microbiome exists on every surface of the oral cavity. When the microbiome becomes imbalanced, through actions, behaviours and habits such as sub-optimal oral hygiene, smoking or dehydration, this imbalance can lead to oral diseases, such as periodontal disease and caries, and is associated with systemic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and pneumonia.

Helping patients understand the importance of maintaining a healthy microbiome and a healthy mouth, and the changes needed to achieve this, is, therefore, an essential role for oral health professionals (AND non-oral health professionals).

The mouth and its microbiome are highly variable both between and within individuals, so health messages need to be as individual as the patients are. By co-designing oral health literacy strategies, oral health and non-oral health professionals can work with patients and the public to create long lasting strategies to improve oral health and achieve a healthier life.

The Whole Mouth Health project is supported by Colgate.

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Related resources

Introducing the Whole Mouth Health Project

Oral health literacy, behaviour change, and empowering patients to improve their oral health

These proceedings give an introduction to the Whole Mouth Health project introduced at the FDI World Dental Congress in San Francisco, United States on 5 and 7 September 2019. The summit addressed the project goals and produced the project statement of scope and purpose.