Help your Patients Explore their Caries Puzzle

The Alliance for a Cavity Free Future (ACFF) is introducing a patient-facing version of its Caries Puzzle to underpin the key elements in fighting caries for continued education of the public.

The ACFF identified the need for further education and developed the patient-facing Caries Puzzle as a tool to educate and remind the public about caries by highlighting four main factors that need to be addressed:

  • nutrition (reduction of sugar)
  • maintaining healthy oral hygiene behaviours (such as regular brushing)
  • dental team support (regular check-ups) and
  • the use of fluoride.

The parts of the puzzle stress the importance of proper dental education and follow the recommended guidelines for important areas such as sugar consumption, appropriate tooth brushing with fluoride, and regular dental visits. One example of a framework for the dental team on providing patients with clear up-to-date guidance and communicating effectively is the International Caries Classification and Management System™ (ICCMS™).

The original version of the Caries Puzzle, aimed to explain the collaborative relationship between the multiple stakeholders needed to effectively shift the global burden of caries, can be found here. 

The ACFF, a non-profitable charitable organisation, is a group of worldwide leading dental experts who have joined forces to help implement changes to dental health practices across the globe. The ACFF is working to encourage the public to seek advice from their dental team. The aim is that everyone will have the means to understand their specific risks of caries early on to prevent its progression and to develop an individual action plan together with their dental team.

Four annual surveys have show the majority of Europeans are affected by caries and further steps need to be taken to improve their oral health.

Over the last four years, the ACFF has undertaken a series of important public opinion surveys and has engaged with over 24,700 adults (18+) online in Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the UK, to better understand perceptions and habits surrounding caries and oral health. The results have highlighted misconceptions the public have about their oral health and the impact that caries can have on their lives but also their desire to educate themselves and improve their oral health.

“The work conducted by the ACFF in Europe has been invaluable in providing us with the bigger picture of the public’s oral health and oral care habits. By using this information and working together with dental teams across Europe we can address the public’s concerns and allow them to take control of their oral health.” (in Worpress quotes) Professor Nigel Pitts, Director of the Dental Innovation and Translation Centre (ITC) at King’s College London Dental Institute, London, UK and co-chair of the ACFF Pan-European Chapter.

This investigation has covered a range of relevant topics, ranging from the frequency of a patients dental and hygienist visits, to tooth brushing and nutrition habits, issues surrounding self-esteem and the amount of money spent on oral healthcare products each month.

  • In 2013, the first in the survey series highlighted an alarming lack of awareness and understanding amongst Europeans with regards to dental caries. Almost fifty per cent (49%) of Europeans wrongly believed that only 7-18 year olds were at heightened risk of developing cavities.
  • The survey data for 2014 highlighted the scope and burden of dental caries. As many as 40 per cent of those surveyed in Europe were not satisfied with the health of their teeth and that approximately half of all Europeans has issues with tooth decay that made them embarrassed about smiling.
  • In 2015 the survey demonstrated the impact of sugar and misconceptions about sugar intake. 60% of Europeans said they consume more than the World Health Organization daily amount of recommended sugar and over two-thirds felt they currently didn’t have enough support from dental teams to help reduce this.
  • The most recent survey in 2016 examined the value that the public place on their oral healthcare, with almost all Europeans (94%) wanting to improve their oral care. Over two thirds (66%) were also found to be in favour of paying a monthly flat-rate fee (of more than €20) to support this.

Download My Caries Puzzle in PDF here.



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Many thanks,
The #ColgateDialogue team