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Dental Associations Urge Governments, United Nations to Address Global Impact of Oral Disease

February 24, 2012

Contact Information:
Telephone: 312.440.2806
Email: (Journalists) or Contact ADA (All Others)

CHICAGO, Feb. 24, 2012 –Meeting today at the American Dental Association (ADA) headquarters, the ADA, FDI World Dental Federation and dental associations around the world urged their respective governments and the United Nations (U.N.) to recognize and address the global impact of oral disease. The ADA is a member of the FDI, an international organization comprised of approximately 200 national dental associations and specialist groups.

According to ADA President William R. Calnon, D.D.S., "When we improve the nation’s oral health, we help improve their overall health. We urge U.S. health agencies to focus on risk assessment, prevention, disease management and early intervention to decrease both oral diseases and non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart, respiratory and diabetes."

The most viable approach in addressing non-communicable, chronic diseases is prevention and early diagnosis. Signs and symptoms in the mouth may indicate disease elsewhere in the body, thus dentists can play a valuable role in screening dental patients for certain non-communicable diseases and referring them to physicians or other qualified health professionals for evaluation and any necessary treatment.

According to the FDI, tooth decay affects 90 percent of the world’s population. Oral conditions such as caries (the disease that causes tooth decay), periodontal (gum) disease, dental infections and other oral conditions share common risk factors (unhealthy diet, alcohol and tobacco use) with four chronic diseases recognized by the U.N. as non-communicable diseases: cancer, cardiovascular, respiratory and diabetes. Some oral conditions and infections can increase the risk for all four of these non-communicable diseases. According to the World Health Organization, 36.1 million people worldwide died from conditions such as heart disease, strokes, chronic lung diseases, cancers and diabetes in 2008.

In 2009, for the first time in history, oral health was addressed through a special session at the 7th World Health Organization Global Conference on Health Promotion in Nairobi, Kenya.

Last September, at a U.N. meeting in New York, 193 U.N. member states, including the U.S., signed a declaration containing a series of commitments on non-communicable disease prevention and control.

The American Dental Association and national dental associations around the world believe the next step in combating oral disease is for their respective governments to honor the commitments their governments made in signing the September 2011 declaration by adding oral disease to the U.N. political agenda and for each government to include oral disease among its national health indicators by 2013.

About the ADA

The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing 163,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA's consumer website