The future of preventive dentistry

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.309.6949.214 (Published 23 July 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:214
  1. A Sheiham

    The recent sharp fall in the prevalence of the two main dental diseases in industrialised countries calls for a radical revision of preventive dentistry. Dental disease is readily preventable without dentists: the falls have occurred for reasons external to dentistry, with dentists playing only an insignificant part. We need to reconsider what dentists should be doing. I shall use dental caries for illustration, but similar considerations apply to the other main dental disease, periodontal disease.

    Dental caries has undergone a striking reduction in most industrialised countries over a relatively short period. In England and Wales in 1973, 65% of 8 year old children had experienced caries; by 1993 this proportion had dropped to 17%. In 15 year olds the mean number of decayed, missing, and filled teeth fell from 5.9 in 1983 to 2.5 in 1993.1 The proportion of 16-24 year olds with 18 or more sound, untreated teeth increased from 44% …

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