Oral disease such as dental caries,
periodontal disease, tooth loss, oral mucosal lesions, oropharyngeal cancers
and dental trauma are major public health problem. Dental caries, otherwise
known as tooth decay, is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases of people
worldwide; individuals are susceptible to this disease throughout their
and Ismail, 2007). To avoid pain and discomfort, decayed primary teeth
need to be restored, particularly molars in children aged 6 to 8 years.
Retention of primary molars until they fall out normally – age 10 to 12 –
allows adequate dental arch space for the eruption of succeeding permanent
premolars, avoids the tipping forward of first permanent molars, and might
possibly create serious orthodontic problems.
Carious permanent teeth should be repaired promptly in
order to keep fillings small and maintain as much natural tooth as possible.
Often, fillings have to be replaced several times during life; each time,
additional tooth structure has to be removed, thus weakening the tooth. Current
research also indicates that children from low income households have higher
caries rates and more unmet dental treatment needs than their higher income
counterparts. A concern among public health policy makers is that some special
groups are disadvantaged in terms of untreated disease and less desirable
patterns of dental care. Information from the surveys on patterns of untreated
dental care in Europe will assist in identifying disadvantaged groups and will
contribute to oral health policy development.
Periodontal diseases are usually seen as a multifactorial
chronic inflammatory disease initially caused by bacterial infection with the
destruction of the supporting tissue of the teeth. One consequence of periodontal
diseases can be the loss of attachment. This manifestation of periodontal
diseases is a major cause of tooth loss after the age of 40-45. Epidemiology
has further enabled the distribution of periodontitis in various populations
that still have to be assessed and whose risk factors are still to be
identified. It has recently been suggested that untreated periodontal disease
constitutes a risk for general well-being and health, especially with respect
to cardiovascular and respiratory disorder, pre-term birth, and diabetes
(Bourgeois and Baehni, 2003).
Recently in Europe, the roles of oral health professionals
are changing in a variety of ways. They include imbalances between supply and
demand, the creation of new roles in response to changing patterns of disease
and emerging technologies, changing professional expectations and changing
public expectations. The need for workforce planning in the oral health sector
may be considered as an acknowledgement of one aspect of market failure in the
health sector, giving rise to the challenge of ensuring sufficient staff with
appropriate skills to meet the needs of a labour intensive service with high
social utility. The overall aim of workforce planning is the provision of an
adequate number of personnel with appropriate competencies to meet the service
needs of the population and ensure that personnel is available and distributed
equitably and coherently between geographical regions, establishments, and
levels of care. Thus, the importance of reframing regulatory systems to ensure
that the health workforce of the future is prepared to meet the changes that
must take place in health care delivery cannot be underestimated.
Public policymakers have long recognized the need for
programs to facilitate access to dental services for children and adults
especially from low-income households. Despite the potential for improved oral
health status, the level of untreated dental caries tends to vary in Europe on the basis of sociodemographic factors.