Three of the important dental preparations – topical fluoride-containing preparations (such as toothpaste), glass ionomer cement and silver diamine fluoride – are featured for the first time in World Health Organization Model List of Essential Medicines for Adults and Children 2021.
The updated essential medicines list, which includes 20 new medicines for adults and 17 for children, had never deemed these dental preparations as essential until now.This inclusion is expected to increase the access of these oral care products to a wider range of patients thus decreasing the burden of the most prevalent disease in the world-Dental Caries.
WHO’s model lists aim to identify those chemical agents, medicines, medical devices, and other medical products that everyone should always have access to, and that all governments should ensure are available and affordable to their populations.
WHO Model List of Essential Medicines is basically divided into two parts:
1. Core list : presents a list of minimum medicine needs for a basic health-care system, listing the most efficacious, safe and cost–effective medicines for priority conditions. Priority conditions are selected on the basis of current and estimated future public health relevance, and potential for safe and cost-effective treatment.
2. Complementary list: presents essential medicines for priority diseases, for which specialized diagnostic or monitoring facilities, and/or specialist medical care, and/or specialist training are needed. In case of doubt medicines may also be listed as complementary on the basis of consistent higher costs or less attractive cost-effectiveness in a variety of settings.
Under the leadership of Benoit Varenne, D.D.S., Ph.D., dental officer at WHO Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the NYU Dentistry WHO Collaborating Center for Quality-improvement, Evidence-based Dentistry supported the applications for all three dental treatments for submission to the WHO Expert Committee, which included coordinating contributors, gathering evidence and drafting the application dossiers.
Adding them to the list for adults and children is a huge step forward for oral health and the prevention and treatment of dental caries, said Habib Benzian, D.D.S., Ph.D., co-director of the NYU Dentistry WHO Collaborating Center for Quality–improvement, Evidence-based Dentistry and research professor at the NYU College of Dentistry.
“With untreated caries affecting more than 2.5 billion people around the world, we need to change the paradigm towards priority for prevention and highly cost-effective care,” he said. “With the new essential medicine list now in place, stakeholders must ensure the dental preparations reach those who need them. This will require the translation of the global recommendations to national policy and action, including universal availability, steady supply, affordability and use of the essential dental medicines in primary oral health care.”
Sodium fluoride — without any further specification and as the only dental substance — has been on the WHO Model list since 1973 under the category of essential micronutrients, Dr. Benzian said, but the fact was not widely known and it had no visible public health effect. This update of the WHO essential medicines list includes a new section on dental preparation, he added, and the previous listing for fluoride was transferred from the section for essential micronutrients to the new section for dental preparations.
The decision came months after the WHO adopted a resolution on oral health calling for the development of a global strategy action plan, and monitoring framework for improvement of oral health globally until 2031, its first resolution on oral health since 2007.
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