Oral diseases affect almost half of the world’s population: WHO

Rotting teeth, swollen gums and oral cancer: almost half of the world’s population suffers from oral diseases, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

A new report highlighted glaring inequalities in access to oral health care, saying it was adversely affecting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations.

“Oral health has long been neglected in global health,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, asserting that “many oral diseases can be prevented and treated through cost-effective measures.”

The United Nations Health Organization found that 45 percent of the world’s population, or about 3.5 billion people, struggle with tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral diseases.

The report, which is the first comprehensive picture of the situation in 194 countries, found that global cases have increased by one billion in the past 30 years.

The World Health Organization said this was “a clear indication that many people do not have access to the prevention and treatment of oral diseases.”

The most common diseases are tooth decay, or tooth decay, severe gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer.

Untreated dental caries is one of the most common diseases, affecting about 2.5 billion people worldwide.

Severe periodontal disease, which is the leading cause of all tooth loss, is estimated to affect around one billion people.

And approximately 380,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year, the WHO said.

Breathtaking inequality

Three-quarters of those suffering from oral diseases live in low- and middle-income countries, the report says.

And in all countries, people with low incomes, the disabled, older people living alone or in care homes, those living in remote and rural communities, or minorities bear a greater burden of oral disease, he said.

These patterns are the same as those found for other non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, the WHO said.

The risk factors are also similar, high sugar consumption, tobacco consumption and alcohol consumption take their toll.

Thursday’s report highlighted barriers to providing adequate oral health care, including visits to the dentist, which often require high costs.

This can lead to “catastrophic costs and significant financial burdens for families and communities,” the WHO said.

At the same time, the reliance on highly specialized providers and high-tech equipment makes this service inaccessible to many.

Inadequate information and monitoring also mean that many people wait far too long before seeking or receiving treatment.

The WHO made a long list of recommendations to address the problem, including urging countries to include oral health care in their primary health care systems.

© 2022 AFP

Quotation: Mouth diseases affect nearly half the world’s population: WHO (2022, November 17) Retrieved November 17, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-11-mouth-diseases-world-people.html

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