Purpose: There is a number of systems for the provision of oral health care, one of which is the Nordic model of centrally planned oral health care provision. This model has historically been firmly based on the concept of a welfare state in which there is universal entitlement to services and mutual responsibility and agreement to financing them. This study reports and analyses oral health care provision systems and developments in oral health policy in the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) since 1990. Material and Methods: Descriptions of and data on the oral health care provision systems in the Nordic countries were obtained from the Chief Dental Officers of the five countries, and contemporary scientific literature was appraised using cross-case analyses to identify generalisable features. Results: It was found that in many respects the system in Iceland did not follow the Nordic pattern. In the other four countries, tax-financed public dental services employing salaried dentists were complemented by publicly subsidised private services. Additional, totally private services were also available to a variable extent. Recently, the availabilty of publicly subsidised oral health care has been extended to cover wider groups of the total population in Finland and Sweden and, to a smaller extent, in Denmark. Concepts from market-driven care models have been introduced. In all five countries, relative to the national populations and other parts of the world, there were high numbers of dentists, dental hygienists and technicians. Access to oral health care services was good and utilisation rates generally high. In spite of anticipated problems with increasing health care costs, more public funds have recently been invested in oral health care in three of the five countries. Conclusion: The essential principles of the Nordic model for the delivery of community services, including oral health care, i.e. universal availability, high quality, finance through taxation and public provision, were still adhered to in spite of attempts at privatisation during the 1990 s. It appeared that, in general, the populations of the Nordic countries still believed that there was a need for health and oral health care to be paid for from public funds.
Keywords: health policy, Nordic countries, oral health care, public, private, reform