Oral health care systems in developing and developed countries

Periodontol 2000. 2012 Oct;60(1):98-109. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0757.2011.00427.x.


Health care systems are essential for promoting, improving and maintaining health of the population. Through an efficient health service, patients can be advised of disease that may be present and so facilitate treatment; risks factors whose modification could reduce the incidence of disease and illness in the future can be identified, and further, how controlling such factors can contribute to maintain a good quality of life. In developed countries, clinics or hospitals may be supported by health professionals from various specialties that allow their cooperation to benefit the patient; these institutions or clinics may be equipped with the latest technical facilities. In developing countries, health services are mostly directed to provide emergency care only or interventions towards certain age group population. The most common diseases are dental caries and periodontal disease and frequently intervention procedures aim, at treating existing problems and restore teeth and related structure to normal function. It is unfortunate that the low priority given to oral health hinders acquisition of data and establishment of effective periodontal care programmes in developing countries but also in some developed countries where the periodontal profile is also less than satisfactory. Despite the fact that in several developed countries there are advanced programmes oriented to periodontal disease treatments, the concern is related to the lack of preventive oriented treatments. According to data available on periodontal status of populations from developed countries, despite the number of dentists and trained specialists, dental health professionals do not presently meet adequately the need for prevention, focusing mainly on curative care. The need for strengthening disease prevention and health promotion programmes in order to improve oral health conditions and particularly periodontal status in the majority of countries around the world is evident. Unfortunately, in many countries, the human, financial and material resources are still insufficient to meet the need for oral health care services and to provide universal access, especially in disadvantaged communities, in both developing and developed countries. Moreover, even though the most widespread illnesses are avoidable, not all population groups are well informed about or able to take advantage of the proper measures for oral health promotion. In addition, in many countries, oral health care needs to be fully integrated into national or community health programmes. Improving oral health is a very challenging objective in developing countries, but also in developed countries, especially with the accelerated aging of the population now underway and intensifying over the coming years.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Dental Health Services*
  • Developed Countries*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Global Health
  • Health Priorities
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Resources
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Oral Health
  • Periodontal Diseases / prevention & control
  • Periodontal Diseases / therapy