Is Tooth Decay a World Crisis?


Is Tooth Decay a World Crisis?

We value our wonderful patients and take your dental health to heart! No doubt, we are all very lucky to have such great access to top-notch dental care from Dr. E and other providers right here in our Ahwatukee community (and throughout the country)! But, the sad reality is that part of our world population is not as fortunate when it comes to their oral health.

Consider these sobering statistics from the World Health Organization:

  • A 2016 Global Burden of Disease Study estimated that oral diseases affect half of the world’s population (3.5 billion people)!
  • Severe gum disease is estimated to be the 11th most prevalent disease globally.
  • In most countries, there are between 1 and 10 cases of oral cancer (out of every 100,000 people).
  • Oral disease is much higher in disadvantaged population groups where there is poor oral hygiene and more limited access to dental care.
  • About 30% of the people worldwide do not have ANY natural teeth left!

What makes these oral health statistics even more difficult to accept is the fact that tooth decay, and many other common oral diseases, are very treatable if caught early! However, in many developing and underserved countries, driving to the local pharmacy to replace a toothbrush or purchase more floss simply isn’t a viable option. While dentists in many U.S. communities actively compete for patients, families in underserved international populations must travel many, many miles to locate a dentist or wait years for a dental mission visit in order to get basic dental care.  As a result, common dental issues such as cavities, gum disease and oral infection go untreated in childhood and progress into serious problems by adulthood in socially disadvantaged populations. This occurrence is considered by many to be unfortunate, unfair and unjust in today’s modern world!

So, what can be done to curb the epidemic of worldwide tooth decay and oral disease? Education can play a major role along in the prevention of tooth decay and gum disease along with public outreach and intervention. For example, as a developing country in the early 2000s, Thailand had disproportionally high incidences of tooth decay and oral disease. However, the country’s health ministry implemented a dental outreach program in primary schools throughout the country and found that the proportion of children with tooth decay had decreased significantly by 2013. Clearly, education and prevention can be highly effective tools in solving the worldwide dental health epidemic!

Do you want to learn more about how YOU can help others across the globe that do not have proper access to the dental care and treatment we are fortunate enough to appreciate in Ahwatukee? We encourage you to visit websites for organizations such as or to learn more and possibly even become part of the solution to ending tooth decay as a world crisis!


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