WHO/Europe works with Member States to develop, improve and promote government-approved policies dealing with oral health. WHO strategies for promoting oral health was emphasized in 2007 by the World Health Assembly Resolution (WHA60.17) Oral health: action plan for promotion and integrated disease prevention.

An important challenge is to ensure appropriate application of evidence-based strategies for oral health in Member States, within the frame of noncommunicable disease prevention and primary health care. Such strategies for preventing disease and promoting oral health are well-established; however, they still need to be implemented effectively in several countries of the European Region.

WHO/Europe recommends Member States to implement new WHO guidelines on reducing sugar consumption, and to consider prevention of oral disease through guidelines on tobacco and alcohol use. In addition, quality of oral health care is a concern, for example, in phasing down the use of dental amalgam and shifting towards the use of alternative materials for restorative dental care.

Collaboration with other United Nations agencies

WHO/Europe works with the United Nations Children’s Fund on school based oral health programmes, and with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to reduce mercury releases. One of the potential sources of mercury release relates to the use of dental amalgam for restoration of decayed teeth. WHO and UNEP recommend countries to phase down the use of dental amalgam, replacing it with the use of high-quality alternative materials for dental restoration as endorsed by the Minamata Convention on Mercury.