WHO includes three dental preparations for the first time in the list of essential medicines

October 15, 2021

The World Health Organization on October 1 announced updates to its model list of essential drugs for adults and children, including three – topical preparations containing fluoride (such as toothpaste), glass ionomer cement and silver diamine fluoride – are dental treatments presented for the first time.

The updated essential medicines list, which includes 20 new medicines for adults and 17 for children, had so far never judged these essential dental preparations.

“This is a major achievement for oral health and public health,” said Jessica Meeske, DDS, outgoing chair of the ADA Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention.

Dr Meeske

“As a practicing pediatric dentist who sees a large number of low income, high caries risk patients, I have seen the benefits of fluoride, glass ionomer cement, and silver diamine fluoride, and I am happy that their usefulness is recognized worldwide as essential. “

Under the direction of Benoit Varenne, DDS, Ph.D., dentist at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the NYU Dentistry WHO Collaborating Center for Quality-improvement, Evidence-based Dentistry supported applications for all three treatments. to submit to the WHO Expert Committee, which included coordinating contributors, collecting evidence and writing nomination papers.

Adding them to the adult and children’s list is a big step forward for oral health and the prevention and treatment of dental caries, said Habib Benzian, DDS, Ph.D., co-director of the NYU Dentistry WHO Collaborating Center. for Quality– improvement, evidence-based dentistry and research professor at NYU College of Dentistry.

“With untreated cavities affecting more than 2.5 billion people worldwide, we must change the paradigm to prioritize prevention and high cost-effective care,” he said. “With the new essential medicines list now in place, stakeholders must ensure that dental preparations get to those who need them. This will require translating global recommendations into national policies and actions, including universal availability, consistent supply, affordability, and use of essential dental drugs in primary oral health care.

Sodium fluoride – without 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 had no visible effect on public health. . This update to the WHO Essential Medicines List includes a new section on dental preparation, he added, and the previous list of fluoride has been moved from the section of essential micronutrients to the new section of dental preparations.

Dr Benzian
Dr Benzian

The summary of the report says its executive committee noted that the burden of oral disease, particularly untreated dental caries, is a significant public health problem globally.

“The committee noted that these products offer relevant benefits and can be used in atraumatic restorative treatment techniques and in non-specialist settings in accordance with WHO guidelines on oral health interventions,” according to the abstract. .

The lists are updated every two years by a committee of experts, made up of recognized specialists from the academic world, research and the medical and pharmaceutical professions.

The move came months after WHO passed a resolution on oral health calling for the development of a global strategic action plan and monitoring framework for improving oral health. -dental in the world until 2031, its first resolution on oral health since 2007.

The World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines and Medicines for Children can be found online.


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