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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 525-526
FDI: From research representation to action

President-Elect, FDI-World Dental Federation, Former President, European Regional Organisation-FDI Member, Oral Cancer Task Force, FDI Rue Mariotte 75017, Paris, France

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Date of Web Publication21-Dec-2013

How to cite this article:
Hescot P. FDI: From research representation to action. Indian J Dent Res 2013;24:525-6

How to cite this URL:
Hescot P. FDI: From research representation to action. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2013 [cited 2023 Mar 30];24:525-6. Available from:
A lot of International Federations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), among them FDI, existed before World War II. However, it was the spirit of international cooperation following that sad event that encouraged them to grow and multiply. In many cases, there was no clear agenda, their very existence standing as its own justification. Then, in the 1980s, a new generation of members began to ask the question: "Why are we paying this membership subscription?" and the pressure was on for each Federation and NGO to define its mission and purpose, not just to "be" but to "do."

In many respects, FDI was lucky: it did not have to undertake such soul searching because, right from the start, its founders had laid down clear ethical goals to which FDI has adhered, and continued to adhere over the years. Nevertheless, in the last 20 years, two developments have radically transformed the World: Globalization and the Internet. Together, these two irresistible forces are putting immense pressure on the International Community, Governments, Businesses and NGOs not only to "do" but to "do well," "do quickly" and "do transparently."

For FDI, this means consolidating its transformation from its representative to its leadership role, based on concrete action and international experience. An example that springs to mind is in the field of dental materials. There, FDI has, on behalf of dentists worldwide and within the context of commitments made during the negotiation process on the Minamata Convention on Mercury, undertaken to engage a process of phasing down the use of dental amalgam.

Now it must advise dentists how to do this both at policy and practical levels. Hence, working with partners the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Program, it is now in the final stages of developing implementation guidelines. These will supplement and complete the two resolutions and nine policy statements on dental materials that FDI has issued since 2007.

The internet has had a further impact on the healthcare community and especially the dentist: the patient no longer sits passively accepting this or that treatment or this or that cost. He/she has consulted a number of websites, read research reports and drawn conclusions, is in a position to analyze research, judge and compare the offer locally and internationally. Increased world-wide mobility affects not only the dental community-with migrations of dentists from the poorer to the richer regions of the world-but also the patient, now client, with a variety of choices as well research output.

There are some, naturally, who view these developments as a threat. It can be viewed that way if the dentist is considered merely a technician and practitioner of restorative skills. Viewed as a medical practitioner, with special responsibility for oral health, [1] the picture changes completely. FDI's work to gain recognition of oral disease within the context of global policy on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), more commonly known as chronic diseases such as cardiovascular and respiratory disease, cancer and diabetes-has opened up new opportunities for the profession and perhaps a new business model. All this has happened within the context of the constant endeavor of research in the dental field.

Sustained by a huge, ever growing body of research linking oral diseases to NCDs, the dentist's role transforms into one of prevention and early diagnosis. As one of the few medical practitioners treating non-symptomatic patients during the course of a once or twice-yearly check-up, dentists can identify possible causes for concern, advise on behavioral aspects of illness and risk factors and-in a world where the mouth can be the key contributor to self-esteem and in some cases, professional success-play a key role in supporting the individual's wellbeing. All this being supported by continuous research and evidence-based dental practice.

Thus, in line with FDI's actions in the field of NCDs and as part of a holistic approach to health, the added value of the dentist derives from proximity. Furthermore, viewed as part of the wider medical community, dentists can increase their influence on international public affairs and on government and health policy compared with their influence as lone advocate.

For FDI, the third area of concrete action is in the field, where a number of activities are already underway, for example the live, learn, laugh carried out by Unilever Oral Health promoting prevention through twice a day brushing with fluoride toothpaste. However, FDI's most ambitious project is continent-wide, its "Strategy for Africa," [2] based on a realistic vision of what is possible and a pragmatic approach to what can be achieved.

FDI cannot bring solutions to Africa: the solutions must come from within African countries themselves. What it can do is provide leadership, rally international solidarity and help build capacity to rise to the challenges as well as implement concrete actions.

FDI today is transforming its role from collective representation to international leadership and concrete action on the ground, protecting the interests of dentists worldwide faced with the twin challenges of globalization and the internet, with a firm base in continuous research. I express the wish that more research will transform the practice of dentistry for the betterment of overall health at a global level.

   References Top

1.FDI Policy Statement on 'Salivary Diagnostics', adopted by the General Assembly in 2013  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Hescot P, China E, Bourgeois D, Maina S, Monteiro da Silva O, Luc Eiselé J, et al. The FDI African Strategy for Oral Health: Addressing the specific needs of the continent. Int Dent J 2013;63:113-20.  Back to cited text no. 2

   Authors Top

Patrick Hescot

Correspondence Address:
Patrick Hescot
President-Elect, FDI-World Dental Federation, Former President, European Regional Organisation-FDI Member, Oral Cancer Task Force, FDI Rue Mariotte 75017, Paris
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-9290.123348

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