32: Oral Health Promotion

Chapter 32

Oral health promotion

By the end of this chapter you should be able to:
1. Distinguish between oral health promotion and oral health education.
2. Briefly explain the Ottawa Charter – an international health promotion initiative.
3. Be aware of Department of Health guidance and national/local promotion initiatives.
4. Explain why oral health promotion is not always effective.
5. Think about the future of promotion and its potential impact.


It is easy to confuse the terms oral health education and oral health promotion, and it is important for oral health educators (OHEs) to know the difference between the two terms and where the two areas overlap.

Oral health education is part of the wider aspect of oral health promotion, which involves local, national and even international programmes and cooperation: ‘Oral health promotion attempts to make the healthier choices the easier choices‘ [1] – through wide-ranging policy-driven international, national and local initiatives, which either target the population directly or are communicated via educators.


In 1986, the World Health Organisation (WHO) produced a document called The Ottawa Charter, which is an example of an international health promotion initiative.

The Charter is an international agreement that was signed at the First International Conference on Health Promotion in Ottawa (Canada). It set in motion a series of research studies and initiatives among international organizations, national governments and local communities to achieve a goal of Health for All by the year 2000, and better health promotion beyond.

Strategies in the Charter included [2]:

  • Building healthy public policy (e.g. legislation exempting toothpaste from VAT, adding fluoride to water).
  • Local authority healthy eating policies.
  • Creating supported environments (putting policies into action by making the healthy choices easy).
  • Developing individual knowledge and skills in those who deal with the public, including doctors, dental personnel, pharmacists, caterers, teachers and nursery staff.
  • Supporting community action – working with voluntary groups in communities to care for the health in their particular community.
  • Re-orientating health services towards prevention and ensuring that all health professionals give the same message.


If oral health promotion is to be effective, it is recognised that the Ottawa Charter needs to be implemented (for authorities, organisations, groups and individuals), continually revised and delivered to the public in acceptab/>

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Jan 4, 2015 | Posted by in General Dentistry | Comments Off on 32: Oral Health Promotion
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