2015 Press Releases

EU spends €79bn on dental diseases

6 Jan 2016
L-R Professor Helen Whelton, Dean of the School of Dentistry, University of Leeds & UCC and Dr Noel Woods, Cork University Business School, UCC are working on a €6 million EU research project to find more effective oral health care treatments across Europe. Image Tomás Tyner

University College Cork has joined an EU €6 million research  project which will transform dental care across Europe over a four year period. 

Dental treatment costs an estimated €79bn a year across the EU, yet these diseases are almost entirely preventable.

The EU research project will bring about a shift in dental care practices, from a focus on treating teeth by extraction and fillings, to more effective oral health care treatments to prevent disease in the first place.

Using anonymous data from millions of health records across Europe, researchers will work with dental professionals and insurers to identify strategies to prevent disease in each country.  The researchers will provide continuous feedback to shape best practice and will develop a set of key performance indicators against which dentists and healthcare systems can be measured.

The project is led in Ireland by Dr Noel Woods, Cork University Business School at UCC while the overall project is directed by the University of Leeds in conjunction with the Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam and the University of Heidelberg, in collaboration with NHS England, universities and dental insurers from across Europe.

Professor Helen Whelton, Dean of the School of Dentistry in Leeds (and former Director of the Oral Health Services Research Centre, UCC and currently Adjunct Professor in UCC) said: “The World Health Organization has said that dental diseases are the most common chronic diseases known to man. We want to change this.”

“The hope is that, by continually assessing and giving feedback on the performance of dental professionals and healthcare systems in keeping teeth healthy, it will foster change in practices and encourage a move to more preventive dental care.

“We will be using secure, anonymous medical records to develop a model which focuses on preventing dental problems and which gives dentists and health systems the ability to measure their success in making patients healthier.”

“We will be looking at things such as how long teeth remain healthy with no need for treatment or, at country level, the amount spent on extractions each year. This information can be compared across different systems and countries."

The project will have access to the patient record databases, of six European countries including Ireland, Britain, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and HungaryIn addition to hearing the views of professionals and insurers, the project will also consult with patients in the participant countries to identify their preferences and gain their perspective on the dental care they receive.

“The ADVOCATE project (Added Value or Oral Healthcare), which is funded under the EU Horizon 2020 grant programme, will focus on developing and comparing new models for safe and efficient prevention oriented and patient centred health care systems,” says Dr Noel Woods.  “ADVOCATE was one of five projects chosen by the EU from 107 applications.”   Two health economists have been hired in the Cork University Business School at UCC to work on the project over the next four years.  The project follows Dr Woods’ successful HRB grant on Cost Containment Measures on Drug Prescribing.

Professor Whelton added: “This is a fantastic example of collaboration between universities, the public sector and the private sector, with the aim of improving the dental health of an entire continent, and we hope this will feed in to the reform of healthcare systems globally.” 

University College Cork

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