Oral health

Oral health priority action areas

The WHO Global Oral Health Programme focuses on the following priority action areas:

Risks to oral health and intervention

Diet, nutrition and oral health

Today the world faces two kinds of malnutrition, one associated with hunger or nutritional deficiency and the other with dietary excess. Diet and nutrition affects oral health in many ways.

Oral health and fluorides

Research has shown that fluoride is most effective in dental caries prevention when a low level of fluoride is constantly maintained in the oral cavity.

Tobacco and oral health

Prevalence of tobacco use has declined in some high-income countries but continues to increase in low- and middle-income countries, especially among young people and women.

Important target groups

School children and youth

WHO's Global School Health Initiative, launched in 1995, seeks to mobilize and strengthen health promotion and education activities at local, national, regional and global levels.

Elderly people

The age distribution of the world’s population is changing. With advances in medicine and prolonged life expectancy, the proportion of older people will continue to rise worldwide.

HIV/AIDS and oral health

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is one of the most serious to affect humanity. About 40 million people were infected with HIV in 2001, and millions have already died of AIDS.

Oral health services

More than 20 years after widespread adoption, the strategy of Health for All through primary health care still has not been fully implemented. In many countries, national capacity and resources are still insufficient to ensure availability of and access to essential health services of high quality for individuals and populations, especially in deprived communities.

Information systems

The burden of oral disease and needs of populations are in transition and oral health systems and scientific knowledge are changing rapidly. In order to meet these challenges effectively public health care administrators and decision-makers need the tools, capacity and information to assess and monitor health needs, choose intervention strategies, design policy options appropriate to their own circumstances, and to improve the performance of the oral health system.

Oral Health in WHO Headquarters

Dr Benoit Varenne
Oral Health Programme Officer

Dr Yuka Makino
Technical Officer

WHO Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases (PND)
20 Avenue Appia
1211 Geneva 27
Telephone: +41 22 791 4426
E-mail: hq_pnd@who.int