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The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has looked into what measurable aspects (indicators) could be used to measure oral health in the Netherlands over the next few years. 17 indicators emerged, including dental practice visits and day-to-day oral care. These could be used for the purposes of an oral health monitor. 

Oral health should be taken to encompass such things as the ability to speak, chew, taste, and express emotions confidently and without pain, discomfort or disease. Clearly, good oral health is important for people in their daily lives.

Too little insight into oral health

The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport believes there is currently too little insight into the state of oral health in the Netherlands. Despite the fact that oral care accounts for 3.5% of healthcare expenditures. The Ministry wants more insight the level of insight in order to adapt policy accordingly. For that reason, RIVM studied with which indicators, oral health might best be measured.

Set of indicators for oral health monitor

In order to ensure structural information, the Ministry wants to run a monitor for several years. To this end, RIVM compiled a set of 17 indicators based on interviews with researchers, healthcare providers, patients (or their representatives) and other involved stakeholders.

Three groups were distinguished: young people, adults and older people. This distinction was made as various aspects can differ among groups. For instance, the emphasis among the young is on prevention of oral care problems. In older people, it is more about maintaining functions such as eating, drinking and swallowing.