Tooth Decay Untreated in Billions Worldwide

The Journal of Dental Research has carried out a study that suggests more than 2.4 billion people across the world are suffering from untreated tooth decay. With numerous methods introduced in recent years alongside standard dental treatments to combat tooth decay, experts say the figures are extremely alarming.


The figures would also suggest that there is an alarming level of neglect as far as tooth decay is concerned, despite advancing treatments and preventions being easily accessible.

Tooth decay is one of the most common reasons for someone to make an appointment with their dentist. Experts have warned that tooth decay can lead to a number of issues, including severe pain, days off work, infections and problems with childhood growth. Despite an increased emphasis on preventing tooth decay in children, many experts have highlighted the importance of preventing tooth decay in adults as well.

Tooth decay occurs as a result of dissolved layers of teeth damaged by acids in the mouth. If you are ever diagnosed with tooth decay, it may also be referred to as dental decay or dental caries. Tooth decay is the leading cause of gum disease, abscesses and cavities.

The study was carried out by Prof Wagner Marcenes of Queen Mary University of London and a team of scientists who analysed 378 studies involving around 4.7 million people between the early 90’s and 2010.

The global survey suggests tooth decay is present in the permanent teeth of around 2.4 billion people who are still undiagnosed. 621 million children are thought to be suffering from tooth decay in milk teeth.

UK data suggests that a third of the population still have dental decay that is untreated, while in countries such as Lithuania the proportion was almost twice as much as this. The UK data collected would suggest that there are around 190 million new cases of tooth decay every year. Prof Wagner cited diet as the main reason for tooth decay in both adults and children. Sugary foods have proved to be a catalyst for tooth decay in the past.

Prof Wagner told the BBC, “It is alarming to see the prevention of treatment of tooth decay has been neglected at this level”.

“Tooth decay is a significant economic burden and if left untreated, it leads to poor productivity at work and absenteeism in adults, and poor school attendance and performance in children.”

Prof Wagner also stated that he felt oral health messages should be just as prevalent in the workplace as they are in schools.

Professor David Williams, an expert in global oral health at Queen Mary University of London, was not involved in the research but agreed that the findings proved tooth decay was a “major public health problem”.

“And there is major tension here” he told the BBC, “this is a disease that is prevalent and yet preventable and is consuming budgets. But the likelihood that the oral health community will be able to fight this battle single-handedly can be challenged.”

The team is based internationally and includes researchers from Universities in Washington, Seattle and Queensland, Australia.

With these certainly enlightening facts and figures, it’s essential that adults are fully aware of the threat of tooth decay. It has often been regarded as something children should look to fend off but, with 2.4 billion undiagnosed cases in permanent teeth, it is clear adults need to stop neglecting their pearly whites and work harder to keep them in the best possible condition.

Article provided by Mike of Basingstoke dental practice Omnia Dental.

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