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September 22nd, 2016

Oral Health: Does It Have An Updated Meaning Today?

Category: cincinnati dentist, dental health

oral health hagen dental in cincinnati

The World Dental Federation is a worldwide organization for the dental profession, representing over a million dentists across the globe! It’s called the FDI for short, because it was established in Paris as the “Fédération dentaire international” (1).

It’s now located in Geneva, Switzerland. Each year, approximately 300 delegates meet to discuss issues, debate changes, and define the future of dentistry across the world. These members are representatives from over 200 national dental associations and over 130 specialist groups from various countries. One of the missions of the FDI is to “promote optimal oral and general health for all peoples” (2, 3).

Earlier this month, the World Dental Federation launched an updated definition of the term “oral health.”

The term “oral” refers to all the components of your mouth and oral cavity: The teeth, gums, connective tissues, jaw bones, soft palate, mucosal tissue of the mouth and throat, tongue, lips, chewing muscles, salivary glands and the branches of the immune, nervous and vascular systems that supply, protect and nourish these tissues. That part hasn’t changed!

The FDI wanted to bring the definition up to contemporary standards by designating oral health as an integral part of an individual’s general health and well-being. The new definition was created by the Federation’s “Vision 2020 Think Tank”, which includes experts from oral health backgrounds, public health officials, and health economics experts (3).

So What Has Changed?

So what is the main differences between the old definition and the new definitions being used—and why does it matter?

Dr. Michael Click, co-chair of the FDI’s Vision 2020 Think Tank explains: “The old definition lacked a theoretical framework that made assessment and evaluation of oral health hard to measure,” he said. “Furthermore, this new definition moves dentistry from treating disease to treating a person with disease.” He went on to say they created a new definition so it could resonate with more people.

The intention is that more people will be able to understand concepts related to our oral health!

These changes might seem subtle, but they do have big significance. Oral health does not occur in isolation…in other words, the health of your teeth, gums, and entire mouth are a part of and acutely related to, your overall health. These new definitions help to clarify and validate that!

In summary, the main points, as defined by the World Dental Federation:

  1. Oral health is multifaceted. A “healthy smile” is more than being “cavity-free” and we agree with that, too! It includes the ability to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch, chew, swallow and express emotion through facial movements. It means being able to do these things confidently and without pain, discomfort or disease.
  2. Oral health is a fundamental part of health, including both physical and mental wellbeing. Another area we agree with! Oral health and our overall health is influenced by the values attitudes of individuals and communities. This means that although oral health is always important—even if the quality of care varies depending on what country you live!
  3. Oral health is a reflection of the physiological, social, and psychological factors that are essential to the quality of life. That’s a mouthful, but also true! The point is: oral health is engrained in more facets of our lives than we may realize.
  4. Oral health is influenced by a person’s experiences, perceptions, expectations and ability to adapt to circumstances. Our overall health affects our oral health, just as our oral health has effect on our overall health (3).
    oral-health-quote

This broadened definition of oral health serves to update the definition to a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being, rather than just the absence of disease or health issue.

It embodies our understanding that everything in the body is intrinsically connected: oral health and general health go hand in hand, rather than being two separate concepts.

What does this mean for you? You cannot be truly healthy without good oral health! This puts enormous importance on good oral hygiene, positive lifestyle habits, and regular dental visits. At Hagen Dental Practice, we strive to help you achieve oral health, with the understanding that it helps you maintain and enhance your overall health.

We Can’t Wait to Meet You & Your Family

Don’t delay your visit. Early detection saves lives. Call us today to schedule an appointment at (513) 251-5500.

Sources/References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FDI_World_Dental_Federation
  2. http://www.who.int/workforcealliance/members_partners/member_list/fdi/en/
  3. http://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2016-archive/september/fdi-adopts-new-definition
  4. http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/DataStatistics/SurgeonGeneral/sgr/chap1.htm

 

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