11:20am Saturday 18 January 2020

Dental experts highlight gaps in public knowledge of tooth decay

The Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future (ACFF), chaired by Professor Nigel Pitts, Director of the Dental Innovation and Translation Centre (ITC) at King’s College London’s Dental Institute, have published a new European Chapter of long-term goals for tackling tooth decay, including the target that ‘every child born in 2026 should stay cavity free during their lifetime.’

Tooth decay affects up to 80 per cent of the world’s population and if left untreated, it can progress to dental cavities. However, findings from a new survey carried out by the ACFF among 4,500 adults from Germany, Poland, Spain, Greece, Sweden and the UK, highlight significant gaps in public knowledge. Over 38 per cent believe that sooner or later everyone will develop dental cavities and 72 per cent do not believe they do enough to prevent them. 18 per cent admitted they had poor or no understanding of how to prevent cavities.


Research at King’s Dental Institute has demonstrated that tooth decay occurs across a series of stages that need different types of care. This ‘continuum’ approach is now recognised across Europe as a key part of modern tooth decay control and preventative management.

Professor Pitts said: ‘Across Europe we have a plethora of expertise, ideas and tools that could dramatically improve the way we manage dental health. But we need to harness this knowledge, and put evidence into both policy and practice, standardise the way we measure, classify and manage the problem.’

On a global level, the ACFF has identified the following long-term goals:
– By 2015, 90 per cent of dental schools and dental associations should have embraced and promoted the ‘new’ approach of ‘caries as a continuum’ to improve dental caries prevention and management.
– By 2020, regional members of the ACFF should have integrated, locally appropriate, comprehensive caries prevention and management systems and monitoring developed and in place.  
– Every child born in 2026 should stay cavity free during their life time.

The sub-goals of the new European chapter of the ACFF are to:

– Bring together the most influential experts in Europe who share common objectives and provide support and feedback to the Global ACFF board
– Address inequalities in caries prevention and control across Europe
– Gain further ratification from leading European dental organisations that support the mission and goals of the ACFF in order to identify and address major information gaps in caries prevention.

Notes to editors

For further media information please contact the Public Relations Department on 0207 848 3202.

The Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future, first launched as a global initiative in 2010, calls for joint action to challenge leaders and stakeholders in the community to learn the importance of caries as a disease continuum, by recognising that cavities are preventable and that in the early stages, caries is reversible; and to develop comprehensive programmes for the prevention and management of dental caries appropriate for individual regions. 

Read the EU_Chapter_Caries_Fact_Sheet for further information about tooth decay.

For further information about King’s visit our ‘King’s in Brief’ page.

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