World Oral Health Day (WOHD) is on March 20. This is a global matter and it’s our chance to make a difference!
Did you know that oral disease affects 3.9 billion people worldwide? With untreated dental caries impacting almost half of the world’s population (44%) it is the most prevalent of all the 291 conditions included in the Global Burden of DiseaseStudy¹. It’s shocking facts like this that drove FDI World Dental Federation to launch World Oral Health Day (WOHD) back in 2007. It is now the largest global awareness campaign on oral health.
Each year, it focuses on a specific theme and reaches out to the general public, oral health professionals and policymakers, who all have a role to play in helping reduce the burden of oral disease. WOHD inspires them to take action.
All stakeholders must work together to address the disease burden and take the necessary action so that populations can Live Mouth Smart.In a world where 90% of the population will suffer from oral disease during their lifetime, WOHD is a key date in the oral health community agenda. It’s an occasion when people around the globe unite to put the spotlight on the immense burden caused by oral disease and is an opportunity to remind our political leaders that investment in prevention yields dividends in oral health and general health. It is also a day to salute the hard work of dental practitioners and the dental industry to improve the state of oral health in the world.
This year’s campaign theme ‘Live Mouth Smart’ empowers people to take control of their oral health – throughout life – so they can enjoy a healthy, functional mouth from childhood into old age.
‘Live Mouth Smart’ conveys the message that by making smart decisions such as adopting good oral hygiene habits, avoiding risk factors and having a regular dental check-up, they can help prevent oral disease. The imagery is positive and focuses on oral health as much more than a nice smile. It highlights how basic oral functions that are core to life – ability to speak, smile, sigh and kiss, smell, taste, touch, chew, swallow and convey a world of emotions through facial expressions – are affected and how this relates to physiological, social and psychological well-being.
The campaign strives to make people understand the broader consequences of oral disease and how poor oral health affects general health and well-being. It stresses the impact of oral disease on various aspects of a person’s social life, which can lead to low self-esteem, diminished social interactions, poor school performance, lack of confidence, and meagre employment prospects.
All stakeholders – general public, oral health professionals and policymakers – must work together to address the disease burden and take the necessary action so that populations can Live Mouth Smart. We have therefore developed calls to action together with supporting campaign material in the global fight against oral disease.
How you can make a difference
- • Educate your patients on how to prevent and control oral disease, enabling them to avoid any unnecessary pain or suffering and enjoy a better quality of life into old age.
You also champion prevention and early detection to help ensure the best patient outcomes though the reduction of oral disease and any associated health complications.
- • Teach good oral hygiene habits, particularly the importance of brushing twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste and having regular dental check-ups.
- • Provide information and guidance on how to control risk factors including tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets – especially those rich in sugar – to help protect the oral health of your patients and prevent other conditions such as heart disease and stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.
- • Avoid surgical intervention through prompt and efficacious application of preventive care to a specific lesion, once it has been detected and assessed.
This provides a very significant opportunity to stop lesions from ever progressing to the stage at which surgical intervention is required and to preserve tooth tissue. This aspect of caries care is a priority for you and fully integrated into routine dental practice for all age groups.
- • Organise World Oral Health Day activities on 20 March in your practice or work with your NDA to show your patients/public that you are committed to helping them prevent and control oral disease and contributing to their overall health and well-being.
World Oral Health Day is the time for action
The last point in the list is key. It is our job, as oral health professionals, to raise awareness and to drive these messages out to our patients. Nobody else is going to do it first!
The organisers have created a toolkit that is designed to help you understand how you can get involved with WOHD and the actions you can take to protect your own, your patients and your community’s oral health, respectively. It includes customisable posters, brochures and even an interactive game called Mad Mouths that educates players on the importance of oral health by swiping away plaque, stubborn foods and harmful bacteria, while trying to avoid swiping the toothpaste. The game is available on iTunes and GooglePlay. You can download the WOHD17 toolkit here, full details on World Oral Health Day can be found on their website www.worldoralhealthday.org
Looking for ideas of what to do?
The WOHD17 toolkit lists these in detail but how about;
- • Get involved with local activities
- • Organise an awareness-raising event
- • Reach out to decision makers and advocate oral health policies
- • Start a petition and collect signatures
- • Volunteer to make a presentation in your community
- • Host a fundraising dinner
Shout about what you did for WOHD17! Send in photos and a brief description and we will publish them in the next issue of The DHAA Bulletin.
Reference: 1 Global Burden of Disease Study. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, 2012 (http://www.healthdata.org/gbd, accessed 28 July 2016).