It can be said that humanity longs for the eradication of periodontal disease. Even looking at pets, canine periodontal disease has also become a major issue in Japan, and a wide range of products for treating and preventing it is available on the market. Periodontal disease is a formidable foe to which all animals with teeth are prone; and even humans, who, unlike dogs, are able to take care of their own teeth, suffer due to it. Dental caries and periodontal disease, the two leading causes of tooth loss, are crucial challenges for the world of dentistry.
At its 60th Anniversary Meeting in 2017, the Japanese Society of Periodontology declared a commitment to the eradication of periodontal disease (the Kyoto Declaration). In February 2018, the ACFF, which has set as its goal “A cavity-free life for every child born from 2026,” established its Japanese Chapter . It is focusing on the management of oral cavity functions through the various life stages, from infancy to old age, with the aim of providing as broad a range of dental care as possible. While it is indeed important to focus on oral cavity functions in this way, the world is still waiting for the advent of prophylactic vaccines for dental caries and medicines for eradicating periodontal diseases. Medicines for preventing dental caries were developed many years ago. But while medicines for reducing dental caries have appeared on the market, prophylactic vaccines are yet to appear in medical settings. Despite medical science being classified as “life medicine” and dental science as “lifestyle medicine,” chronic dental diseases also pose a threat to our very lives. The relationship between life-style related NCDs and periodontal disease is gradually becoming clearer, but to prevent the former and control its severity, we must begin by taking a more active approach to tooth preservation. Thus, the development of prophylactic vaccines for dental caries and medicines for eradicating periodontal disease has been the focus of research since dentistry began as a medical system, and this is precisely what we should be focusing all our efforts on.
When I was appointed President, the slogan of the Japanese Association for Dental Science was, “Give the world its first Nobel laureate from the field of dentistry”; and, if vaccines and medicines like those described above were made available, its developer would undoubtedly be nominated for the Nobel Prize. Also, the sales market for dentistry medicines, which has long been a small market, would expand to a global scale.
I believe that the role of the Japanese Association for Dental Science is to coordinate this effort in various ways, shaping collaborative endeavors to address the above challenges and raising awareness regarding the framework needed to turn research into clinical practice. This is an important challenge, not only for dentistry, but one that health professionals, academia, industry, government, and the private sector must also take up. There is no time to lose.
If this kind of development became a reality, we would need to make significant changes to the current dental care system and take new approaches. So, the mission of the Association is to contribute to society by moving ever closer to this ideal as we go forward.
President, Japanese Association for Dental Science