The Japan Dental Association (JDA) was established in 1903, and enters its 113th year this year. Now, as of the end of 2014, over 65,000 of the 103,972 dentists in Japan are members of JDA.
The objective of JDA’s members is to “promote the health and welfare of the people of Japan by working to enhance the ethics of the dental profession, establish the national dental care, provide education on public health and dental health, and advance the development of dental science.” In line with this objective, members, for example, set their own goals based on JDA Continuing Education program, and set themselves to studying and learning new aspects of dental science on a day-to-day basis. Furthermore, JDA’s members cooperates with government agencies, with local dental associations serving as contact points, and contributes to maternal and child health, school health projects, and adult dental health, based on infant dental checkups, school dental checkups, periodontal disease screenings, and more.
One outcome of these steady efforts and contributions by members over many years is the fact that, in 1989, the average number of caries among 12-year-old children in Japan was more than 4, but in the fiscal year 2015, this figure dropped below 1 to 0.9. Also, in 1989, the 8020 Campaign, which calls upon citizens to “keep 20 teeth or more even at age 80,” was launched, with JDA playing a central role. At the start of this campaign, less than 10% of citizens had 20 teeth or more at age 80, but in 2011, this ratio rose to close to 40%, and the campaign has thus achieved substantial results. In addition, recently, JDA has been studying the relationship between dental diseases and illnesses such as diabetes and dementia. As such, we at JDA are striving to “enable all citizens, from infants to elderly persons, to live abundant lives, enjoying being able to chew and speak over their entire lifetime.”
The history of Japan’s public health insurance system goes back more than a century, and Japan has maintained its current world-class system, which is called a “Universal Health Insurance System,” for 50 years of this history. Nevertheless, in recent years, population aging and a declining birthrate have made for a rapidly progressing trend, and the nation’s financial situation has been worsening. It is therefore becoming increasingly difficult to maintain this valuable system that deserves being kept in place for the future. Given this critical situation, we are facing the question of how to build a society in which people can live in good health until the end of life. JDA has presented extensive data showing that the enhancement of dental care can contribute when it comes to this national issue of extending healthy life expectancy.
Going forward, we at JDA will continue to fulfil our roles and responsibilities as a member of the community of healthcare providers in the super-aged society that is Japan. We seek the understanding and support of the people of Japan in regard to the activities of the Japan Dental Association and its members.