Oral diseases pose a major health burden for many countries and affect people throughout their lifetime, causing pain, discomfort, disfigurement and even death. Even more, these diseases share common risk factors with other major chronic diseases.
Here are some key facts about oral health by the World Health Organization:
- Oral diseases affect nearly 3.5 billion people, estimates suggest.
- The most common health condition is untreated dental caries in permanent teeth.
- More than 530 million children suffer from dental caries of primary teeth (milk teeth).
- Severe gum disease, which may result in tooth loss, is also very common, affecting almost 10% of the global population.
- Oral cancer (lip or mouth) is one of the three most common cancers in some countries of Asia and the Pacific.
- Treatment for oral health conditions is expensive and usually not part of universal health coverage (UHC). In most high-income countries, dental treatment averages 5% of total health expenditure and 20% of out-of-pocket health expenditure.
- In contrast, most low- and middle-income countries are unable to provide services to prevent and treat oral diseases.
- An unhealthy diet high in sugar, use of tobacco and the harmful use of alcohol are factors that contribute to oral diseases.
- Most oral health conditions are largely preventable and can be treated in their early stages.
Oral health conditions
The majority of oral health conditions are: dental caries (tooth decay), periodontal diseases, oral cancers, oral manifestations of HIV, oro-dental trauma, cleft lip and palate, and noma (gangrenous infection of the mouth and face that mostly affects children).
The Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 estimated that oral diseases affect close to 3.5 billion people worldwide. Among these diseases, caries of permanent teeth is the most common condition. Globally 2.3 billion people suffer from caries of permanent teeth and more than 530 million children suffer from caries of primary teeth, according to estimates.
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