There has been, and still is a firm belief that regular use of dental services is beneficial for all. Thus governments in most European countries have shown some interest in training oral health care professionals, distributing the dental workforce and cost sharing. Constantly evolving treatment options and the introduction of new methods make dental clinicians feel uncertain as to which treatments are most useful, who would benefit from them, and which treatments will achieve cost-effective health gain. Although there is a considerable quantity of scientific literature showing that most available preventive measures are effective, and the number of sensible best-practice guidelines in prevention is growing, there are few studies on cost-efficiency of different methods and, secondly, the prevention and treatment guidelines are poorly known among general practitioners. In the eyes of the public, it is obvious that preventive methods practised by patients at home have been eclipsed by clinical procedures performed in dental clinics. Reliance on an increasingly individualistic approach to health care leads to the medicalisation of issues that are not originally health or medical problems. It is important to move general oral disease prevention back to the people who must integrate this in their daily routines. Prevention primarily based on healthy lifestyles, highlighted in the new public health strategy of the European Union (EU), is the key to future health policy.
Keywords: dental prevention, health policy, oral healthcare systems, public health