Fluoride Action Network

Editorial ‘No simple solutions, no single ingredient’: Systems orientated approaches for addressing Wicked Problems in population oral health.

Source: Community Dent Health | 36(1):3-4. | February 25th, 2019 | By SR Baker


A Wicked Problem is a problem that is impossible or difficult to solve partly because of its multi-component nature and its interconnection with other problems (Rittel & Webber, 1973). There are many Wicked Problems in the field of population oral health; tooth decay being one. Tooth decay is a function of biology (destruction of our tooth enamel); a function of our physical environment (availability, advertising and accessibility of sugar sweetened foods and drinks, availability of dental services); a function of our social environment (norms of oral hygiene and sugar consumption vary by socio-economic strata, country, and cultures); a function of us as individuals (dietary habits, visiting the dentist, oral health beliefs, toothbrushing, use of fluoride, dental anxiety, income); and a function of politics (our city, region and national policies on oral health education, tax on sugar sweetened drinks, water fluoridation, dental payment systems).

*Abstract available online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30807049