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News / December 20, 2013

Facing a cavity-free future

by Guy Hiscott

A new European omnibus survey has highlighted the need for further education about dental caries at a public health level.

Over one third (38%) of the 4,500 people surveyed across Germany, Greece, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK believe that sooner or later everyone will develop tooth decay. Nearly three quarters (72%) agreed that they do not believe they do enough to prevent tooth decay and nearly one fifth (18%) admitted they had poor or no understanding of how to prevent cavities.

‘Although dental caries into dentine still affects 84% of dentate adults in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, we have in the UK seen a marked improvement in levels of dental caries over the last 30 years. However, despite the overall improvements, in many segments of the population dental caries remains a significant burden. Across Europe we have a plethora of expertise, ideas and tools that could dramatically improve the way we manage dental health,’ commented Professor Nigel Pitts, Director of the Dental Innovation and Translation Centre (ITC) at King’s College London Dental Institute, London, UK, and chair of the Global Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future.

‘But we need to harness this knowledge, put evidence into both policy and practice. There are also opportunities to standardise the way we measure, classify and manage the problem across Europe.’

The Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future, first launched as a global initiative in 2010, is calling for joint action to challenge leaders and stakeholders in the community to learn the importance of caries as a disease continuum, by recognising that cavities are preventable and that in the early stages, the caries process is reversible; and to develop comprehensive programmes for the prevention and management of dental caries appropriate for individual regions.

With a number of national initiatives already underway in England, Scotland and Wales, Professor Nigel Pitts, who will also co-chair the European Chapter of the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future added: ‘There is work to be done by the dental profession to ensure we are talking also with those outside dentistry and implementing up-to-date, evidence-based, dental care, discussing experiences across Europe, ensuring best practices from the UK are shared and helping the public and patients to improve their understanding and management of dental health.’

On a global level, the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future has identified the following long-term goals:

• By 2015, 90% of dental schools and dental associations should have embraced and promoted the ‘new’ approach of ‘caries as a continuum’ to improve dental caries prevention and management.
• By 2020, regional members of the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future should have integrated, locally appropriate, comprehensive caries prevention and management systems and monitoring developed and in place, sharing learnings and best practices from the UK where appropriate.
• Every child born in 2026 should stay cavity-free during their life time.

The sub-goals of the new European Chapter of the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future are to:

• Bring together the most influential experts in Europe who share common objectives and provide support and feedback to the Global Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future board.
• Address inequalities in caries prevention and control across Europe.
• Gain further ratification from leading European dental organisations that support the mission and goals of the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future in order to identify and address major information gaps in caries prevention.

‘The level of resources and intervention from both a public health and clinical perspective is inconsistent across Europe,’ added Professor Svante Twetman, Professor of Cariology at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, who will co-chair the European Chapter of the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future alongside Professor Pitts.
‘This means that people are suffering from a problem we know how to stop. Dental caries deserves greater attention in order to elevate it as an important health issue.’

More information on the launch of the European chapter can be found here.

To see a video of Professor Nigel Pitts and Professor Svante Twetman talking about the European Chapter of the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future and the dental caries landscape in Europe, visit