HCR.20.007 – Oral health disparities: an unintended system consequence

Route: Health care research, sickness prevention and treatment

Cluster question: 094 How do we improve the quality of health care as much as possible while keeping it affordable?

The burden of poor oral health (OH) for individuals and society is large. Still, OH is a neglected domain in health policy and healthcare planning. Moreover, a clear disconnect exists between oral and public healthcare. This has translated in unwarranted OH disparities. As such, OH disparities are unintended undesirably consequences of current health policy. To date this has been given little attention.
Oral diseases are preventable chronic non-communicable diseases that require consistent attention throughout life course. Living in disadvantage circumstances and destitution limits the affordability and accessibility of oral healthcare. This puts people with a low socioeconomic position (SEP) in vulnerable situation, which increases their risk for poor OH. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak OH disparities are growing.
We will address person and system factors contributing to OH disparities to disentangle its sources in relation to the current policy and planning in public health and healthcare, at down-, mid- and upstream levels (resp. individual, community, society). We will pioneer system changes to address OH disparities. Thereby, we seek to target affordable improvement of OH for low SEP people, and ‘bring the mouth back to the body’ by connecting oral and public healthcare to overcome the siloed character of oral healthcare. For this we aim to:
– Engage citizens as main stakeholders: capture perspectives on the burden of poor OH, elicit preferences on healthcare needs.
– Utilise existing healthcare data: model shared risks and consequences for oral and general health.
– Exploit existing public preventative strategies so far poorly used for oral healthcare: evaluate feasibility in the context of Dutch healthcare.
– Model health policy scenario: use contemporary simulation and big data modelling methodologies (utilizing data form BRP, CBS, VEKTIS, cohort repositories)
– Organise a Burgerforum: formulate tangible recommendations for improved policy & system planning in public and healthcare.


Health Care System, Health Inequalities, Oral Health, Public Health

Other organisations

ACTA, Amsterdam, Amsterdam UMC, CBS, Erasmus Medical Center (EMC), FTWV, Hogeschool Utrecht, IOS Gemeente Amsterdam, Ivoren Kruis, Pharos, Radboud Medical Center (RUMC), Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM), Sarphati Institute, UMC Utrecht (UMCU), Utrecht University (UU), VEKTIS


Organisation ACTA (UvA & VU), APH
Name Prof.dr. J.M.G. (Geert) van der Heijden
E-mail Geert.vander.Heijden@acta.nl
Website https://acta-de.nl/teammember/prof-geert-van-der-heijden-ph-d/