Next review date: TBC

This guideline makes recommendations on undertaking oral health needs assessments, developing a local strategy on oral health and delivering community-based interventions and activities.

Oral health is important for general health and wellbeing. Poor oral health can affect someone's ability to eat, speak, smile and socialise normally, for example, due to pain or social embarrassment.

Oral health problems include gum (periodontal) disease, tooth decay (dental caries), tooth loss and oral cancers.

The recommendations aim to:

  • promote and protect oral health by improving diet and reducing consumption of sugary food and drinks, alcohol and tobacco
  • improve oral hygiene
  • increase the availability of fluoride (note: water fluoridation is outside the scope of this guideline)
  • encourage people to go to the dentist regularly
  • increase access to dental services.

The focus is on people whose economic, social, environmental circumstances or lifestyle place them at high risk of poor oral health or make it difficult for them to access dental services.

The guideline is for health and wellbeing boards, commissioners, directors of public health, consultants in dental public health and frontline practitioners working more generally in health, social care and education. In addition, it may be of interest to members of the public.

This guideline was previously called oral health: approaches for local authorities and their partners to improve the oral health of their communities.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

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