A Watershed Moment

21 September 2016

Thanks to perfect organization and logistics, FDI’s Poznan congress lived up to our high expectations and turned out to be a watershed moment for world dentistry. It established international consensus on how to define oral health, which has serious implications for FDI’s vision of ‘Leading the world to optimal oral health’.

The FDI Congress also saw the launch of a White Paper on the management of dental caries, the Oral Health Observatory mobile app and, above all, the World Oral Health Day (WOHD) 2017 campaign ‘Live Mouth Smart’. We expect WOHD17 to broaden and deepen the message on oral function and oral health to an even wider public.

Progress on all fronts

In my report to the General Assembly, I stressed the dentist’s central role in oral health, hence general health and the need to return oral health to its rightful place in medicine in particular and in life in general.

I also reported rapid progress in all three pillars of FDI’s strategy – membership, leadership and communications. This puts FDI is on track to achieve its short, mid and long-term ambitions in oral health. Projects launched in 2015 are well-managed and implemented locally, and World Oral Health Day 2016 had even greater outreach, in particular over social media. New partnerships established this year will help us achieve our goals in advocacy.

The new definition of oral health

The General Assembly meeting in Poznan adopted with enthusiasm the definition for oral health proposed by the Vision 2020 Think Tank, thereby heralding a new era for world dentistry. It positions oral health as an integral part of general health and well-being.

The new definition will allow us to develop standardized assessment and measurement tools for consistent data collection on a global level. The definition will also provide philosophic support to FDI’s oral health advocacy and allow us to embed further in the minds of policy makers the notion of oral health as indivisible from general health.

FDI elections

Within FDI, I would like to congratulate Prof. Ihsane Ben Yaya and Dr Katy Roth for their re-election to the FDI Council and welcome Prof. Nikolai Sharkov as FDI Councillor. I would also like to thank Prof. Nermin Yamalik for her vital contributions to the Council, after her six-year mandate came to an end in Poznan. New appointments to the committees will soon be listed on the FDI website.

This 2016 congress Opening Ceremony, in the presence of the Polish Minister of Health, local dignitaries and leaders from the Polish Dental Society and Supreme Medical Council of Poland, was extremely memorable. I was especially happy to see Prof. Ana Pereira, Prof. Derek Jones and Dr Stephen Hancocks accede to the FDI List of Honour, our highest recognition.

The FDI-ISO Forum

On the last day of the congress, I chaired the FDI-ISO Forum, on the subject of international standards in dental implants. In my opening address I pointed out that, despite decades of cooperation, this only the second such Forum to take place.

In my view, this is not enough and we need to meet with greater frequency to express views and, where necessary, develop joint positions. I have raised the issue within the FDI Council during our meetings in Poznan - and I recommended that we should take steps to set up a working group to focus closely on the formal basis for our cooperation.


Aside its wide selection of courses in every field of dentistry, FDI 2016 Poznan also stimulated debate on hot topics such as oral health for ageing populations, adapting to the Minamata Convention, responding to the challenge of antimicrobial resistance, and pointed the way forward in areas such as standards for dental implants.

Debate on these three issues will undoubtedly continue at future congresses; but FDI 2016 Poznan will be seen as the moment that when the subjects were firmly placed on the oral health agenda.


Among this year’s awards, I would like to congratulate the national dental associations of Cambodia and Palestine on winning the first FDI Smile Awards in, respectively, the sustainability and innovative categories.

I would also like to commend the four winners of the World Oral Health Day 2016 prizes awarded by FDI and the International Association of Dental Students (IADS) from Iraq, Egypt and two Poland.


FDI 2016 Poznan was a hugely successful dental congress. I would like, on behalf of the FDI membership, to express my wholehearted thanks to our local organizing partners the Polish Dental Society, its president Prof. Bartlomiej W. Loster and Chair of International Cooperation Prof. Honorata Shaw; as well as the Supreme Medical Council of Poland, and its president Prof. Maciej Hamankiewicz and Chair of its International Cooperation Committee Dr Anna Lella.

I would also like to thank Ewa Mastalerz, Managing Director of Exactus, for the perfect congress logistics – and naturally, FDI Executive Director Enzo Bondioni and his remarkably efficient team in Geneva for their untiring work to ensure the success our 2016 Congress.

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