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20 May 2021

Policy consensus to make inroads toward securing a Cavity-Free Future

The Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future has published a Global Consensus for achieving a dental cavity-free future, a comprehensive collection of policy recommendations that if adopted by both dental and health policymakers, will help secure the changes needed to push towards a future free from cavities.

ACFF dentistry Policy Lab
Professor Nigel Pitts at the ACFF Policy Lab

Dental caries, the disease which leads to tooth decay when left untreated, is the most prevalent non-communicable disease in the world. It is a chronic disease that afflicts people of all ages and can affect people throughout their life. It is estimated that more than 2.3 billion people suffer from untreated caries of permanent teeth, with a further 530 million children suffering from untreated caries of primary teeth. Whilst caries does affect people from all backgrounds, children and adults from disadvantaged backgrounds suffer disproportionately. Despite these stark facts, it is widely acknowledged that with appropriate measures, caries can be managed, and the resulting cavities are largely preventable.

In 2020, the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future formed the Making Cavities History Taskforce, drawing on the collaborative effort of international experts from across dental and public health to develop a series of policy recommendations to change the way dental caries is managed. The results of this group’s hard work were published in March 2021 in A Global Consensus for achieving a dental cavity-free future.

The Consensus lays out clear recommendations for policy makers at both the Global and National levels. If implemented, these policies would ensure effective caries prevention and management and offers the best opportunities to see improvements in oral and overall health. The recommendations cover the full scope of caries management to include both public and professional education, diet and nutrition, a shift to preventive dental medicine and comprehensive data collection to monitor the issue.

Since publication, the Consensus has been widely circulated, and acts to support the WHO 2021 Resolution on Oral Health which will be put forward to the World Health Assembly in May 2021. The consensus report has since been endorsed by international organisations including the World Federation of Public Health Associations, reflecting the importance of the Consensus’ message that collaboration across all of public health is vital to successfully tackling the disease. Recently, the British Dental Journal has published an editorial on the Consensus and the issue of dental caries as a whole.

Caries is a preventable disease that affects billions of people. The global response to the Consensus has already been hugely positive. Alongside the WHO 2021 Resolution on Oral Health, the policies laid out in the Consensus have the potential to radically impact the way caries is managed around the world and to change people’s lives for the better.

Professor Nigel Pitts, Chairman of the ACFF

The ACFF is continuing to gather endorsements of the Consensus from organisations and associations around the world. To find out more about the Consensus please visit or contact the ACFF at

The Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future is a global non-profit organisation running out of the King’s College London Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences.

In this story

Nigel  Pitts

Dean of Research Impact