The Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) has noted the global neglect of oral health, as the world body published a new report on Friday.
The report revealed that some 3.5 billion people suffer from oral diseases – with three out of four living in low and middle-income countries.
“Oral health has long been neglected in global health, but many oral diseases can be prevented and treated with the cost-effective measures outlined in this report,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The WHO notes that opportunities for improved global oral health include adopting a public health approach by addressing common risk factors.
These involve promoting a well-balanced diet low in sugars, stopping tobacco use, reducing alcohol consumption, and improving access to fluoride toothpaste.
Other solutions outlined in the report support making oral health part of national health services; redefining oral health workforces to respond to population needs; expanding oral health service coverage; and collecting and integrating oral health data into national health monitoring systems.
“WHO is committed to providing guidance and support to countries so that all people, wherever they live and whatever their income, have the knowledge and tools needed to look after their teeth and mouths, and to access services for prevention and care when they need them,” the WHO Director assured.
The Global Oral Health Status Report analysed key areas and markers throughout 194 countries in a first-ever comprehensive overview.
It shows that cases have increased by one billion over the last 30 years.
WHO said the main reason is many people do not have access to prevention and treatment.
According to the organisation, the most common oral diseases stem from dental cavities, gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancers.
On the other hand, tooth decay is the single most common condition worldwide, affecting an estimated 2.5 billion people.
The WHO report highlighted unequal access to oral health services, with vulnerable and disadvantaged populations most affected.
People on low incomes and with disabilities; older individuals living alone or in care facilities; those in remote and rural communities; and people from minority groups carry a higher burden of oral diseases, according to WHO.
Headline photo courtesy Jonathan Borba (Unsplash.com).