According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 60-90% of school children and nearly 100% of adults have dental caries worldwide. This disease, which can be prevented, causes children to experience pain making it difficult to learn, eat, smile, and speak. Oral disease in children and adults is higher among poor and disadvantaged population groups.
The WHO reports that risk factors for oral disease such as caries include an unhealthy diet, poor oral hygiene, and social determinants. Preventing caries includes decreasing sugar intake and maintaining a well-balanced nutritional diet, ensuring proper oral hygiene, maintaining a constant low level of fluoride in the oral cavity, and providing access to professional dental and dental hygiene care. However, traditional dental care remains a significant economic burden for many countries. This high cost of dental treatment can be avoided by effective prevention and health promotion measures.
To address the world oral health crisis, the WHO recommends developing and implementing community-based projects for oral health promotion and prevention of oral diseases with a focus on disadvantaged and poor population groups, and advocacy for a common risk factor approach to simultaneously prevent oral and other chronic diseases.
The International Federal of Dental Hygienists (IFDH), with our 36 member countries representing over 90,000 dental hygienists, believes that we have a social responsibility to address the oral health condition that exists worldwide, particularly that affecting children.
Our Mission is to:
- Promote access to quality preventive oral health services.
- Increase public awareness that oral disease can be prevented through proven regimens.
- Provide a forum for the understanding and discussion of issues pertaining to dental hygiene.
We believe that the IFDH must have a call to action to address our social responsibility in preventing caries in children worldwide.
The purpose of the Partners in Social Responsibility Program is to join with our corporate partners to create and implement 3 call-to-action campaigns.
Social changes and awareness in the past few years have uncovered a host of vulnerabilities among the female population. We have been exposed to the delicate, frail, and desperate women among us. Some of these women endure both physical and psychological damage. Their oral health is affected from lack of self-care or minimal access to professional care.
Empowering women by creating awareness of oral health is a vital and worthwhile mission. A healthy smile generates higher self-esteem and confidence. And since women are caregivers to both their offspring and aging parents, they influence their entire families. Helping women to achieve better oral health will hopefully have a domino effect for a brighter, healthier future for all.
Our theme for the next 2 years is:
EMPOWERING WOMEN: Gracing Our Faces With Healthy Smiles.
The IFDH is encouraging its members to develop projects that empower women through better oral health.
Social Responsibility 2020
The balance of IFDH member countries that have not presented will now be invited to share their experiences in social responsibility. Some of the countries not participating didn’t appreciate the impact their outreach was accomplishing and now will be asked to share their stories and together with their colleagues gain experience and guidance as we move forward with our global social outreach initiatives. Thanks to our sponsors Dentsply Sirona, Colgate and Curasept, we were able to welcome our colleagues to the ISDH and share their success.
The attendees at the ISDH 2019 in Brisbane, Australia saw an enthusiastic group of 17 presenters from IFDH Association Member countries deliver updates and news on life changing programs being delivered globally. The diversity of the programs ranged from early childhood education, to underserviced neighbourhood outreach, to delivery of education in homes for disabled youth, through to third world clinics and on to teaching oral care in long term care homes for the elderly. A 50-page book has been published documenting the results.
This program, held in July 2017, had a focus on designing action plans that are community-based and advocacy-focused to prevent caries in children. The two-day conference brought together experts in prevention programs, health literacy, and social responsibility who will assist dental hygienists in creating the steps needed to be effective in health promotion and disease prevention. Read the Declaration approved by the attendees.
This first program was designed to build awareness among the IFDH House of Delegates and included a 2.5 hour workshop held at the House of Delegates meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland on June 21, 2016, where representatives of all 32 member countries were present. Speakers from around the globe educated those present on successful social responsibility programs and more.
This program set the stage for delegates to understand their role in supporting social responsibility programs within their respective countries and worldwide. They were charged with initiating further discussions about social responsibility in their respective countries and identifying teams to attend the 2017 conference below.
The IFDH and the Global Child Dental Fund had an awards program from 2014 – 2016 to recognize, on an annual basis, hygienists and student hygienists who participate in a volunteering project which benefits disadvantaged children, mainly but not exclusively in low- and middle-income countries. Read more about this program and learn about the award recipients.