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Dental Federation supports promoting fluoride for oral health

01 July, 2008

A team of researchers, which includes Dr Habib Benzian of the FDI World Dental Federation, Dr Ann Goldman of the School of Public Health and Health Services at the George Washington University in Washington D.C., Dr Robert Yee and Dr Christopher Holmgren, both expert consultants to the FDI’s World Dental Development & Health Promotion Committee, compared the relative affordability of fluoride toothpaste in 48 countries.

This study is the first to attempt to quantify the affordability of toothpaste across the globe.  

Fluoride toothpaste is prohibitively expensive for the world’s poorest people, according to the study  that was published in BioMed Central’s open access journal “Globalization and Health”. 

Researchers revealed that the poorest populations of developing countries have the least access to affordable  toothpaste.

Fluoride toothpaste is the most widely used method of preventing dental decay, but currently only about 12.5% of the world benefits from it.  The researchers believe that the low-use of fluoride toothpaste is largely due to its cost, which is prohibitive for poor populations in some parts of the  world.

The results showed that in different income groups in various countries, as the per capita income decreased, the proportion of income needed to purchase a year’s supply of toothpaste increased; the poorest in each country being the hardest hit.  

“Dental decay is the most common disease on the planet and the use of fluoride is a key approach in preventing it. Fluoride is on the list of essential medicines therefore all efforts should be made to make fluoride-containing products, such as toothpaste, universally available and affordable.

The study  has added new understanding of the challenges that poor populations worldwide are facing with regards to using an essential preventative product for their dental health”, commented Dr Habib Benzian, FDI Development & Public Health Manager.

“We are keen to work closely with the global manufacturers, governments and other stakeholders in this context” he added.

Supporting this research is a part of the FDI’s ongoing efforts to promote the use of appropriate fluoride for better oral health.  During 2006 and 2007, two expert consultations were held by the FDI, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Association for Dental
Research (IADR) to discuss and analyse the impact, delivery methods and advocacy strategies related to fluoride and oral health.

Both conferences resulted in declarations that called for the promotion of oral health through fluoride.