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New Definition of Oral Health Announced

CHICAGO, December 23, 2016 — An editorial in the December issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) discusses the FDI Dental World Federation’s new definition of oral health:

“Oral health is multifaceted and includes the ability to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch, chew, swallow, and convey a range of emotions through facial expressions with confidence and without pain, discomfort, and disease of the craniofacial complex,” reads the definition.

More than 200 national dental organizations, including the American Dental Association, adopted the new definition.

Traditionally, oral health has been defined as the absence of disease. But as authors of the JADA editorial explain, a new definition was necessary to expand on its many facets and convey oral health as a fundamental human right.

“A common definition can bring stakeholders together to advocate for the importance of oral health; to influence and shape parameters of care, health policies, research, education, and reimbursement models; and to shape the future of our profession,” wrote Michael Glick, DMD; David M. Williams, BDS, MSc, PhD; Dushanka V. Kleinman, DDS, MScD; Marko Vujicic, PhD; Richard G. Watt, BDS, MSc, PhD; and Robert J. Weyant, DMD, DrPH. 

FDI also defined additional attributes of oral health: 

  • It is a fundamental component of health and physical and mental well-being. It exists along a continuum influenced by the values and attitudes of people and communities.
  • It reflects the physiological, social, and psychological attributes that are essential to the quality of life.
  • It is influenced by the person’s changing experiences, perceptions, expectations, and ability to adapt to circumstances.

For more information on JADA, visit

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