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Global panel issues fluoride call to action

Geneva, Switzerland—An international expert panel last month issued a call to action to promote dental health by using fluoride to address growing disparities in dental health and the lack of progress in reducing the worldwide burden of dental caries, particularly in disadvantaged populations.

The FDI World Dental Federation, the International Association for Dental Research and the World Health Organization gathered 80 experts from 30 countries for a Global Consultation on Oral Health through Fluoride Nov. 17-19 in Geneva. Dr. Daniel M. Meyer, ADA associate executive director for the Division of Science, was a panel member.

“The ADA has had a rich history of success in effective public water fluoridation efforts in the U.S. and can serve as a great resource to the international effort to improve the health of underserved populations, as well as those that have access to oral health care,” said Dr. Meyer.

“The benefits of fluoride for the prevention and control of dental caries have been known to the scientific and public health community for more than 60 years,” said Dr. Poul Erik Petersen, chief, Oral Health Unit, WHO. “While fluoride in various delivery systems is widely available in many developed countries, it is estimated that globally only 20 percent of the world’s population benefit from appropriate exposure to fluoride. Regrettably, particularly people living in developing countries and disadvantaged communities are deprived of fluoride for dental health.”

The experts’ recommendations urge governments and other influential bodies to:

  • develop effective legislation, necessary directives and programs ensuring access to fluoride for dental health in all countries;
  • include fluoride in health communications, health promotion strategies and programs;
  • encourage governments to reduce or remove taxes and tariffs on fluoride products for dental health;
  • and encourage suppliers to improve availability of effective affordable fluoride toothpaste for disadvantaged populations.

The panel confirmed that universal access to fluoride for dental health is part of the basic human right to health.

For more details on the call to action, log on to www.fdiworldental.org