A new report published in the Journal of Dental Research reveals that billions of people across the globe suffer from untreated tooth decay. As part of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2010 study, Professor Marcenes of the Institute of Dentistry at Queen Mary led an international research team investigating oral health conditions. The report indicates that nearly 3.9 billion people, that’s half the world’s population, suffer from cavities or tooth decay to their permanent teeth. It also happens to be the most common disease of all the 291 injuries and diseases assessed by the GDB.
Untreated oral health conditions like a toothache, can prevent people from eating or sleeping properly and so is considered a disability. It is noteworthy that this assessment did not include mild gum disease or small cavities. “We are facing some serious problems in the population’s oral health,” comments Professor Marcenes.
Other findings from the study included the following:
- Disabilities associated with tooth loss were reported from individuals with moderate heart failure and/or dealing with the consequences of stroke.
- Oral health conditions accounted for an average health loss of 224 years (years lived with a disability or YLDS) per 1000,000 people.
- The study indicates that the global burden of oral health conditions is shifting from severe tooth loss to severe periodontitis (gum disease) and untreated cavities.
- Between 1990 and 2010 oral diseases increased 20 percent due to ageing and population growth.
In Professor Marcenes’s opinion this shift is the result of preventative and conservative treatments for tooth decay and gum disease that have either failed or are simply unavailable. Unfortunately, it’s also a double-edge sword: the longer a person keeps their teeth the greater the pressure on dental services to treat them. Current dental services are coping better to prevent tooth loss, but a huge effort is still needed to prevent the development of gum disease and tooth decay worldwide.
The amazing thing about The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study was the incredibly huge and massive effort it took to compile the data and results. The study began in 2007 and involved nearly 500 scientists working on a complete assessment of data across all diseases and injuries.
It is the hope of Professor Marcenes and scientists like him that these findings will shine a spotlight on the urgent need for an organized global response to dealing with oral health care.
In the meantime, practicing good oral hygiene at home can keep patients ahead of the curve. Brushing twice daily and flossing once a day is a great start. Keep sweet and sugary foods to a minimum, and remember that if you’re in need of immediate dental care call us anytime. We’re here to help. At our Southfield Dental office our well-trained, professional staff can assist you from the moment you walk through our doors. And of course making our patients comfortable is our priority. Our relaxed and friendly atmosphere keeps our patients returning to us again and again for all their oral and dental health needs.
Until next time,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD