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Can minimal intervention dentistry help in tackling the global burden of untreated dental caries?

Abstract

The latest estimates from the Global Burden of Disease study show that dental caries remains a neglected global health issue, with over two billion people suffering the consequences of this highly preventable disease globally. The two main goals of a national health system are to improve population health and reduce health inequalities, which are often achieved through prevention and promotion for everyone, as well as treatment and rehabilitation for the sick. Oral health promotion should be integrated with national policies for the prevention of non-communicable diseases, especially those targeting the intake of free sugars. The ongoing debate on universal health coverage (UHC) offers a unique opportunity to align dental care with essential health services, which all countries are expected to provide. Minimal intervention dentistry (MID) protocols for management of carious lesions, such as the atraumatic restorative technique, silver diamine fluoride and the Hall Technique, could help tackle the global burden of untreated caries as they are cost-effective in the long run. However, the successful implementation in primary dental care and training the new cadre of dentists adequately are pending issues if MID is to facilitate the inclusion of dental care as part of the UHC agenda.

Key points

  • Summarises the latest set of estimates on the burden of untreated caries around the globe.

  • Discusses policy options to reduce the burden of untreated caries.

  • Discusses the relevance of minimal intervention dentistry to tackle this burden from the perspective of national healthcare systems and the universal health coverage agenda.

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Correspondence to Eduardo Bernabé.

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Bernabé, E., Marcenes, W. Can minimal intervention dentistry help in tackling the global burden of untreated dental caries?. Br Dent J 229, 487–491 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-020-2155-9

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