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Strategies for Ensuring Long-Term Oral Health

The global community has a unique opportunity to make lasting changes to the oral health status of people. The recent World Health Assembly Resolution (2021) on Oral Health and the draft Global Strategy on Oral Health 2023-2030 have for the first time framed oral health as an integral part of public health. This new definition of oral health challenges the biomedical model that equates oral disease with physical illness and ignores the impact of the social and commercial determinants of oral health.

In order to improve oral health outcomes, it is critical to incorporate the social and economic determinants of health into an equity-focused framework. This requires integrating oral health promotion into broader health, education and development policies and moving beyond a primarily clinical focus to address all aspects of the person’s experience with his/her mouth (Watt et al., 2019).

To be sustainable and equitable, an approach to oral health should be community-based and engaged. It should be based on the principles of Health in All Policy approaches and include a broader definition of health as including mental, physical and emotional well-being. It should also be a key component of health care for all and an integral part of public health. It must engage a wide range of sectors, such as finance, education, social protection, environment and telecommunications, and involve the entire government apparatus (Watt et al., 2020).

A person-centered approach to oral health should include personal and family responsibilities and involve a community of caregivers that supports a child’s healthy development in the context of their own life experiences and traditions. This includes early childhood and adolescent years, when habits are established that influence an individual’s lifetime oral and overall health. It should also include a reworking of institutional education and learning that shifts from a traditional siloed model, in which universities, colleges, and other tertiary institutions provide formal and non-formal educational opportunities to an interprofessional and transdisciplinary learning landscape that includes schools and other community-based education facilities and workplaces that become integrated, mutually reinforcing learning hubs over the life course.

Tooth decay can affect anyone, but it is particularly harmful for children because their primary teeth are more prone to cavities than adults’ permanent teeth. If you have young children, try to avoid sugary foods and drinks, or have them rinse their mouth with water after eating. Visiting the dentist for a check-up and cleaning twice a year is the best way to keep your teeth healthy. During these visits, the dentist can X-ray your teeth to spot cavities and other potential problems, as well as clean and polish them to remove any stains. In addition, a visit to a Northbrook dentist is the best way to learn about good oral hygiene and to get helpful tips for keeping your teeth healthy at home.

State and federal laws can help reduce barriers to accessing oral health care by relaxing regulations, allowing expanded scopes of practice for dental providers, expanding teledentistry, and encouraging dental services at federally qualified health centers for low income populations. These efforts could increase the number of oral health providers and make it easier for people to obtain preventive care and treatment, especially in underserved communities.

The most successful strategies for improving knowledge, self efficacy and behaviors related to oral health promotion were those that combined the three components with an emphasis on implementation (Watt et al., 2015). For example, interventions that aimed to promote knowledge alone had the least impact on a person’s behavior. However, interventions that aimed to promote behaviors alone had the most impact on a person’s behavior, and those aimed at increasing a person’s confidence in their ability to change their behavior had the next highest impact.

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