Session during World Dental Congress draws attention to ‘No health without oral health’

FDI stresses the urgent need to jointly respond to oral diseases and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) at special session during its World Dental Congress in Madrid. Organized in collaboration with the NCD Alliance, the session is titled ‘No health without oral health: How the dental community can leverage the NCD agenda to deliver on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals’.

Doctor looking into male adult patient's mouth

A common action plan for oral health and NCDs

NCDs – including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases, and mental and neurological disorders – are responsible for an estimated 39.5 million deaths every year. Oral diseases affect 3.9 billion people worldwide and untreated tooth decay (dental caries) is the single most prevalent and preventable disease, yet it impacts almost half of the world’s population.

All major NCDs, including most oral diseases, share the same social determinants and some common risk factors, namely: poor diet, in particular one high in free sugars, which is one of the main causes of tooth decay; tobacco use, which is implicated in the causation of periodontal disease; and the harmful use of alcohol. Tobacco and alcohol use are also strongly implicated in the development of oral and oropharyngeal cancer.  Oral diseases are associated with a number of other NCDs, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and gastrointestinal and pancreatic cancers.

"Despite all the evidence on the extent of the harm to individuals, families and economies, progress on NCDs has been uneven and insufficient. Better engagement and collaboration with the oral health community will accelerate action, particularly in the lead up to the third UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs, which will bring together heads of government and health ministers at the UN General Assembly in 2018."
Katie Dain, Executive Director of the NCD Alliance and featured speaker at the FDI-NCD Alliance joint session 

In 2011, the Political Declaration of the United Nations (UN) on the Prevention and Control of NCDs recognized the major health burden posed by oral diseases and the common risk factors shared with other NCDs, as well the benefits from adopting common responses. Regardless of the developing oral health and NCD movement, awareness of oral diseases among politicians, health planners and even members of the public health community remains low.

Using opportunities for integrating oral health and development

The UN Political Declaration was a turning point for global health, marking a shift from communicable towards noncommunicable diseases that is transforming the global health landscape. With increasingly ageing populations, there is a pressing need to strengthen and reorient health policies and healthcare systems for a comprehensive and integrated prevention and management of NCDs. It is therefore crucial to bring a joint response to oral diseases and other NCDs in delivering the best patient care, especially in the era of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the SDGs set global priorities to promote sustainable and equitable development across the world. Health has a central role as one of the 17 goals established. Goal 3 seeks to ‘ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’ and includes 13 health targets, seven which directly concern the oral health community.

Strengthening the role of the dental community in the NCD agenda

The ‘No health without oral health’ session will be moderated by Prof. Claudio Fernandes from the Fluminense Federal University in Brazil. He will introduce the importance of prioritizing the inclusion of NCDs in the health targets of the SDGs, using his home country as an example of oral health integration into primary healthcare. The session’s programme will include presentations on:

  • FDI’s new oral health definition: bridging the gap between oral and general health for better patient care
    Prof. David Williams, Bart's and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University
  • The role of the oral health community in driving policy to deliver on the Global Commitments for NCDs and Development
    Katie Dain, NCD Alliance CEO
  • Dentists as advocates: taking a common risk factor approach with a focus on sugar policies
    Dr Rob Beaglehole, New Zealand Dental Association
  • Oral health in all policies
    Prof. Richard Watt, Research Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, University College London

"Oral health and NCDs do not exist in isolation from one another, and the FDI-NCD Alliance session will raise awareness of the links between our communities, namely the co-morbidities and joint risk factors, and the co-benefits of working together. Collaboration between health areas, and identifying health win–wins, will also help governments to reach their existing commitments to tackle NCDs."
Katie Dain, Executive Director of the NCD Alliance and featured speaker at the FDI-NCD Alliance joint session 

Don't miss in Madrid:

No health without oral health: how the dental community can leverage the NCD agenda to deliver on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals

Wednesday, 30 August, 11:30-13:00, Room 106