A government program to address dramatic oral health problems in Brazil has resulted in dramatic success, according to the President of the FDI World Dental Federation. Speaking to the American Dental Association recently, Dr. Roberto Vianna, FDI president and a Brazilian dentist, said that in less than seven years, the Brazilian government’s program to improve the oral health of its more than 190 million citizens has enabled the world’s fifth largest nation by size and population to reduce its incidence of caries by more than 30 percent and increase the number of adult teeth treated by 70 percent.
“The survey served as the basis for the creation of a national program with well-defined public policy,” said Dr. Vianna in an article (read the original here). “The program reaches citizens on a variety of levels.”
Because medical and dental care are provided free to its citizens, the Brazilian government was uniquely positioned to address the nation’s oral health status in a comprehensive program, he added.
Initiatives of Brasil Sorridente cover a wide range of strategies that include fluoridating drinking water; expanding the numbers of oral health professionals and oral health teams (most civil servants employed by the government); increasing the amount and kinds of specialty dental services available; increasing oral health care budgets; distributing more than $72 million worth of oral health kits and providing oral health education through the oral health teams; and conducting more oral health surveys to monitor progress.
The success of Brasil Sorridente, Dr. Vianna said, is due in part to its decentralised structure that allows local cities to target their citizens’ needs more effectively.
The Brasil Sorridente program is changing the profile of oral health of the population today, he said, because it is a longitudinal program that will be funded for the next 20 years.
“Not only the government, but also the population is beginning to acknowledge that the practice of dentistry is an integral part of good health,” said Dr. Vianna. “It will take the participation, hard work, dedication and political will of society, government and nongovernmental entities to eradicate oral disease. The challenges are continuous and ongoing, the efforts of the program often still are not perfect, but they are a reality for all Brazilians, giving Brazil a position of prominence on the world stage.”
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