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Oral health in emerging countries and suggestions for adjusted care strategies


Objective: Investigation into the oral health status of selected emerging countries from different regions of the world, so as to capture a broad spectrum of oral health reality prevailing in fast-growing middle-income countries, the aim being to present helpful steps towards adjusted strategies that improve the dental health of the entire population. Method: Using a composite indicator, the Dental Health Index, the oral health of entire populations is measured and compared with the aid of these quantifiable results. The study relies on existing data, where possible, from national representative surveys. Results: The best performer is the upper middle-income country of China. It is followed by India and Vietnam, two lower middle-income states, which placed second and third, although the two latter populations are largely untouched by professional dental activities. This finding is scientifically challenging to explain and needs further investigation. The relative wealthiest country, Malaysia, ranks in the sixth place while Brazil, with one of the highest dentist per capita ratios in the world, places only eighth, just ahead of the Philippines which ranks last in the study. Conclusion: Over the last decade, the awareness and the willingness shown by all countries to improve their precarious oral care situations resulted in the successful implementation of dental care strategies. However, the main obstacles - the widespread shortage of dentists and the poor oral health awareness among the population, particularly those living in poor and/or rural areas - can only be overcome by development-stage adjusted strategies. The broad use of teledentistry (TD) and priority education and training of mid-level dental professionals could be promising instruments for solving these shortcomings in a manageable period of time and under limited financial resources. To attract additional financial and technical resources and expertise, public/private partnerships should also be encouraged.


status of oral health in emerging countries, measurement of population´s oral health status, oral care problems in emerging countries, macro-level comparisons of oral health, teledentistry in oral care