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Advances in Public Health
Volume 2015, Article ID 651836, 6 pages
Review Article

Children’s Oral Health: The Opportunity for Improvement Using the WHO Health Promoting School Model

1Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, Room C323, 4500 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6H 3N1
2Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study, Wallenberg Research Centre, 10 Marais Street, 7600 Stellenbosch, South Africa

Received 5 July 2014; Revised 14 December 2014; Accepted 15 December 2014

Academic Editor: Haiying Chen

Copyright © 2015 Andrew J. Macnab. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The health and quality of life of a large proportion of the world’s children are compromised by dental caries and periodontal disease. Those in developing countries and from disadvantaged populations suffer disproportionately from these forms of poor oral health; however, much of the primary disease and secondary pathology is preventable by simple and inexpensive measures that children can readily learn. WHO health promoting schools (HPS) are an established model for addressing public health issues through education of children in a manner that achieves acquisition of knowledge and health practices that promote behaviours that positively impact determinants of health. HPS programs that address poor oral health have achieved improvement in oral health practices and reduction in caries rates among disadvantaged populations of children. WHO has called for more programs to address the “epidemic” of poor oral health worldwide, and the WHO HPS model appears to be a relevant and applicable way forward. Health care professionals and educators who want to improve the health and quality of life of children related to caries and periodontal disease now have an opportunity to collaborate to initiate, deliver, and evaluate community-based HPS interventions using proven concepts, content, and process.