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Dental public health 

Dental public health
Chapter:
Dental public health
Author(s):

Zoe Marshman

and Peter G. Robinson

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199218707.003.0065
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date: 08 December 2019

Dental public health is concerned with preventing oral disease, promoting oral health and improving the quality of life through the organized efforts of society. Oral health is an important public health problem as dental diseases including dental caries, periodontal disease, oral neoplasms, and dento-facial trauma are common, have significant impact on individuals and wider society, and are largely preventable. Individual risk factors for oral disease are largely equivalent to the risk factors for other common diseases namely diet, tobacco, and alcohol use, accidents, ineffective oral hygiene and limited exposure to fluoride. In common with many other diseases, many of these risks are patterned by social and economic factors. Oral health promotion involves a common risk factor approach which may be based on the principles of the Ottawa Charter. Examples include reducing the consumption of sugars through regulation of advertising and labelling of foods, training dental care professionals to give alcohol and tobacco advice, preventing accidents damaging the mouth through promotion of impact-absorbing surfaces for play areas, and the provision of mouthguards for use during contact sports. Good oral hygiene and optimal exposure to fluoride is promoted through provision of low cost fluoride toothpastes and other sources of fluoride including community fluoridation schemes of water, salt, and milk. Dental services are involved in the prevention and treatment of dental disease with the additional aim of improving the quality of life of affected individuals. Opportunities for clinical prevention include sealing the biting surfaces of teeth and the application of fluoride varnishes. Dental services are increasingly expanding the use of dental care professionals other than dentists to improve access to services. Non-specialist personnel can be trained to provide atraumatic restorative techniques, a method of restoring decayed teeth that does not rely on expensive equipment or electricity. To ensure their effectiveness and efficiency, dental services should provide high-quality, evidence-based patient management.

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