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Chronic conditions policies: oral health, a felt absence

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Abstract

The global health scenario shows an epidemic of non-communicable diseases that lead to long-term chronic conditions, some of which are incurable. Many infectious diseases, owing to their development and length, also generate chronic conditions. Similarly, non-morbid states, such as pregnancy, and some life cycles such as adolescence and ageing, follow the same logic. Among all these chronic conditions there is a significant interrelationship with oral health, both in parallel events and common risk factors. This article presents cross-sectional qualitative research into World Health Organisation recommended health policies to address chronic conditions. Several documents published by the organisation were analysed to verify the presence of references to oral health in relation to chronic conditions, particularly cardiovascular diseases and diabetes as these most frequently have oral manifestations. The analysis showed no significant references to oral health or its indicators within the published texts. The study recognises the value of the work developed by the World Health Organisation, as well as its worldwide leadership role in the development of health policies for chronic conditions. This article proposes a coalition of dentistry organisations that could, in a more forceful and collective way, advocate for a greater presence of oral health in drafting policies addressing chronic conditions.

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