|Year : 2017 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 1-2
Preventing orodental diseases is still better and cheaper than treating them
Abdullah R AlShammery
Riyadh College of Dentistry and Pharmacy, Riyadh 11681, Saudi Arabia
|Date of Web Publication||14-Feb-2017|
Abdullah R AlShammery
Rector, Riyadh College of Dentistry and Pharmacy, P.O. Box: 84891, Riyadh 11681
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
AlShammery AR. Preventing orodental diseases is still better and cheaper than treating them. Saudi J Oral Sci 2017;4:1-2
The now throwaway statement “Prevention is better than cure” has been around for a very long time – in old and recent civilizations, different cultures, different languages, and certainly different situations. It is generally understood to mean that preventing a “bad” thing from happening is normally better and preferred to having to “fix” the bad thing after it has happened. Prevention is better than cure is applicable to a huge number of human situations, health included.
With regard to the latter, human health, the saying has assumed a pride of place in national and transnational strategies to promote heath and prevent diseases even when the measurement of these is difficult to make and not always obvious. Many well-designed retrospective and prospective studies on health promotion and disease prevention, however, confirm the enormous advantages of “prevention.” The most obvious are the vaccinations available today.
As far as dentistry is concerned, the recognition of oral diseases prevention has received and continues to receive significant attention in national health programs, professional conferences, discussions, workshops, and symposia. The Dental Department of the World Health Organization has played a worthy advocacy role in this, but much still has to be done.
Are there known best ways to promote and popularize the mantra “preventing oral diseases is better and cheaper than treating them”? I do not think that there are. However, specific ways or efforts or combination of them when applied to specific situations might be the best approach. When many efforts and positive activities work in concert, they may succeed in “measuring” and “proving” that prevention does work very well in orodental diseases prevention. Some of these efforts include but are not limited to:
- Conspicuous presence of oral disease prevention in dental education curricula – undergraduate, intern, postgraduate
- School programs targeting children, in general, and children at risk, in particular
- Counseling and oral disease prevention talks as a routine in general and specialized practice
- Encouraging “safe” lifestyle and dietary habits as they may pertain to oral health
- Giving adult patients information on potentially malignant oral diseases. Selecting mass screening when feasible among individuals at very high risk
- Strong integration of preventive dentistry into national strategies on disease prevention
- Adequate and commensurate employment remuneration for specialists/consultants/educators in preventive dentistry.
The cost of disease prevention needs not be huge and that is why it is cheaper! It can be rationalized by experts. Generally, it is low-cost across board, whether these are regular dental checkups for early caries detection and calculus accumulation, routinized professional scaling and polishing, techniques of brushing and flossing, use of fluoride in water, toothpaste, and gels, use of sealants, early detection of unusual changes in the oral mucosa of adult patients at risk, taking relevant and appropriate dental and medical history of patients, educating the patients, young and old, regardless of their previous fear, prejudices, or erroneously held ideas/opinions about the dentist and dentistry, and also making concerned individuals to appreciate that although dental diseases do not normally kill, but certainly impact the quality of life.
The enormous advances made in dental treatment options, clinical techniques, dental laboratory techniques, novel dental biomaterials, implantology, cosmetic dentistry, and clinic management options will continue at increasing costs as technology continues on its unprecedented strides. Regardless of these commendable advances, however, a proficient dentist (academic, fully practicing, or both) should still find some time no matter how short, to counsel, advise, or just plainly inform his/her patients about the huge benefits of disease prevention, especially in the context of oral diseases.
The chief dental officers of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries have designed a workable strategy for oral diseases prevention and monitoring for their under-15-year-old nationals. This strategy must succeed.