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Keeping Teeth into Old Age Is a Human Right Not a Privilege


May 3, 2016
by Oral Health

fdi World Dental FederationToday saw the opening of FDI World Dental Federation’s (FDI) three-day conference on Oral Health for Ageing Populations (OHAP), taking place in Lucerne, Switzerland from 3-5 May. A total of 20 experts from around the globe, including the World Health Organization (WHO), are getting together to map out strategies on how to address the growing burden of oral disease and prevent tooth loss in elderly populations so that they can continue to carry out basic functions such as eating, chewing, smiling and communicating without pain, into old age.

Oral disease affects 3.9 billion people globally and untreated tooth decay (dental caries) affects almost half of the world’s population (44%), making it the most prevalent of all the 291 conditions studied within the frame of the international Global Burden of Disease Study (1990-2010)1.

Missing, discoloured or damaged teeth can have both psychological and physiological consequences leading to a significant loss in quality of life. In addition to functional problems, poor oral health and dental problems can result in inflammation of the gums and a poor-quality monotonous diet, all of which increase the risk of malnutrition. This problem will only worsen if urgent action is not taken as according to WHO between 2015 and 2050 the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years will nearly double from 12% to 22%.

Dr Patrick Hescot, FDI President stated, “It is a great achievement that populations are living longer thanks to advances made in the fields of medicine, technology, public health and policy. But it is our role as dentists to ensure that people not only live longer lives but healthier ones too, free of oral disease, which plays a fundamental role in securing a person’s overall health and wellbeing. Oral health is often a neglected area of Healthy Ageing, which is why this conference is so important to try and reset the balance.”

Dr Beat Wäckerle, President, Swiss Dental Association and local conference host added, “Avoiding tooth loss is crucial for Healthy Ageing. Yet the complete loss of natural teeth is highly prevalent among older people all over the world, with severe dental caries and advanced periodontal disease being the major causes. We must take urgent action and put preventative strategies in place. I am delighted that this conference is being hosted in Lucerne and welcome all delegates on behalf of the Swiss Dental Association.”

Although tooth loss is declining in many high-income countries, and older people are increasingly preserving their teeth in a functional condition, tooth loss may be increasing in low- and middle-income countries. This is reflected in the prevalence of reported problems with the mouth and teeth among older people ranging from 42% in low-income countries to 29% in high-income countries.2

The invite-only conference of experts focuses on the theme of ‘Life-long oral health: a fundamental human right’. FDI and GC International AG (GC) launched the joint OHAP initiative – to ensure oral health challenges are addressed in broader disease policies for ageing populations – further to the landmark World Congress 2015: Dental Care and oral health for healthy longevity in an ageing society organized by the Japan Dental Association in Tokyo, Japan. Outcomes from the meeting will be presented at the FDI World Dental Congress taking place in Poznań, Poland from September 7-10, where strategies on how to combat oral disease in ageing populations will be launched.

GC Chairman Makoto Nakao highlighted “In countries like Japan 30% of the population are already over 60 years old, it is now low- and middle-income countries that are experiencing the biggest change and GC is committed to working with FDI and through its network of more than 200 national dental associations to address this issue on a global level and affect positive change for the millions of people suffering unnecessarily from oral disease, when they could be enjoying active healthy ageing.”

About FDI World Dental Federation (FDI)
FDI World Dental Federation serves as the principal representative body for over one million dentists worldwide. Its membership includes some 200 national member associations and specialist groups in over 130 countries.
FDI’s vision: ‘Leading the world to optimal oral health.’

For more information, please visit: www.fdiworldental.org • www.facebook.com/FDIWorldDentalFederation • www.twitter.com/worldentalfed