The disparity in access to oral health care is stark. In Croatia, for example, there is one oral health care professional for every 560 people, and in the United States, one for every 2,200 people. But in China, there's just one oral health care professional for every 82,000 people, and in Ethiopia, one for every 1.3 million people. The location of FDI's annual Congress in Hong Kong highlights in particular the increased incidence of oral disease in Asia, where rising wealth creates the conditions that often lead to increased oral disease.
"Major inequalities in oral health care exist both within and between countries, and it is urgent that the worlds of oral health and overall medical health come together to address a crisis that is compromising our quality of life and costing us far too much money at a time when national budgets are strapped," said Dr. Michael Glick, the dean of the School of Dental Medicine at the University at Buffalo and the leader of FDI's Vision 2020 Task Force. "These numbers highlight how far we have to go to provide basic oral care to most of the world."
The Vision 2020 report represents an evolution in the mission of FDI, which was founded 112 years ago. As the oral health care crisis mounts, FDI increasingly is shifting its role to serve as a public policy advocate for oral health care, beyond its more traditional role as an organizer of industry meetings and congresses. Coincident with the organization's 100 th Annual Congress, FDI is devoting more of its resources to developing health policy and speaking as a unified voice for the promotion of oral health care worldwide.
While the dental associations of individual nations have taken steps to combat oral health inequity, the Vision 2020 effort represents the first time the international dental medicine community, under the auspices of FDI, has come together to set a direction for addressing these issues.