HONG KONG, China--World leaders in dentistry, oral health and public health gathered for the Third Annual Summit of the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future (the Alliance) here to discuss how to better engage communities to prevent and manage dental caries.
The Alliance was launched globally in September 2010 with a global declaration signed by members of the World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization, FDI World Dental Federation, and the International Association of Dental Research.
The Alliance challenges global leaders and other regional and local stakeholders to take action against caries, and specifically early stages of the disease process which might go on to form cavities, but which can be prevented and controlled before developing to that stage.
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease on the planet, affecting five billion people, or nearly 80% of the world's population. In China, a 2005 national epidemiological study revealed that 62% of Chinese children ages 5 and 6 years old suffered from caries.
The same study showed that 61% of Chinese adults ages 35 to 44 had caries and the prevalence of caries was even higher among adults ages 65 to 74, with an average of 75% of adults in this age group affected by caries.
Caries not only affect an individual's oral health through tooth loss, pain and reduced oral function, but also impact an individual's sense of well-being, self-esteem, employability and social mobility. Beyond the individual level, poor dental and oral health can lead to increased country spending, whereas much as 5% to 10% of health costs can go toward caries treatment.
"With a high prevalence of caries among children and adults in both mainland China and Hong Kong, the work of the Alliance in stopping caries initiation and progression is increasingly important," said Dr. Nigel Pitts, chairman of the global Alliance.
"By detecting and treating caries early, we can prevent the formation of cavities and help improve the overall health and quality of life of individuals within these communities."
In an effort to activate communities, the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future has launched several local Alliance organizations throughout the world, including chapters in Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, and Venezuela. A chapter in China is expected in late 2012.
Each chapter is dedicated to achieving the Alliance goals in theircommunities. Some of the activities completed to date have included launching in-local-language Web-based content for professionals and families, partnering with local Ministries of Health and other local stakeholders, working to standardize the caries curriculum at key academic institutions, and developing models that can be used to address oral health in early childhood. An Alliance chapter in China is also expected.
For the first time, the 2012 summit also included an ICDAS symposium on understanding dental caries. The symposium focused on understanding the caries disease process and the importance of early lesions, the epidemiology of caries, how to plan for controlling and preventing caries at the community and individual level, and how to manage caries.