I was fortunate enough to recently attend the Better Oral Health European Platform – Are we taking enough care of our teeth? The case for a European oral health policy. This also launched The State of Oral Health in Europe report, which has been published, ahead of World Oral Health Day on 12 September.
The one-day conference took place in Brussels, a place I really like with its, cafe style society contrasting with the importance and urgency of the European Parliament. And the diverse architecture, which spans from the medieval constructions of the Grand Place to the postmodern buildings of the EU institutions. (Alas, I did not have the time this trip for sightseeing as I was on a business day trip, but I did once again marvel and cast a jealous sigh over their integrated transport system, which makes the city so easy to get around.)
- World Oral Health Day, European Parliament, in Brussels
The conference was very enlightening with a broad range of speaker from across the EU and one thing that really struck me was the huge variances of oral health services from country to country – the research presented really showed up the good, the bad and the ugly. It left me feeling very grateful for the NHS and private practices we have in the UK. It also showed that there is a need for a European Oral Health Policy, but no one that just delivers a framework for treatment but also education. As a Foundation we are committed to educating people about the need to practice a good oral health routine and these are certainly messages that we are trying to share across the world as well as Europe.
There are a number of things I shall takeaway from the conference. One was the startling fact that the mouth is the most expensive part of the body to treat the cost is likely to exceed that for cancer, heart disease, stroke and dementia, once again showing prevention is a much better and cheaper option. Another was that over 50% of European citizens may suffer from periodontal problems (gum disease) with this increasing to 70-85% of the over 60’s and with an expectation that by 2050 over half the world’s population increase will be the over’s 60. The need to do something now has never been greater.
Perhaps the most memorable thing was the passion of and determination of the people assembled to bring change, we all had a common goal and this one crossed oceans, continents and languages – the vital need for prevention and education.
Vicky Bartlett PR Manager British Dental Health Foundation