Even though most people give their oral health little consideration until something goes wrong, maintaining strong teeth and gums remains vital to protecting an individual’s overall health. In recent years, a number of studies have found links between a person’s oral health and the development of such chronic illnesses as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. As your premier Oregon City dentist, Dr. Johnson also believes the longer oral health problems go unchecked, the more substantial a person’s risk of developing a chronic illness becomes.
Despite the advanced medical care available in the U.S., millions of children and adults suffer from untreated oral health problems each year. When viewed globally, this problem affects billions of people who suffer from major untreated dental problems, according to a new study conducted by the Institute of Dentistry at Queen Mary.
As part of the Global Burden of Disease study, researchers collected data on a variety of chronic health problems that effect the world’s population, and discovered a serious problem exists with untreated oral health problems globally.
The results of this study were published in the Journal of Dental Research earlier this year.
A Growing Concern
According to researchers, roughly 3.9 billion people across the globe suffer from some type of oral health problem. Of all the major oral health diseases, untreated tooth decay and cavities was the most common; affecting 35 percent of the global population. This number only reflects cases of moderate to severe tooth decay, meaning that the number of people suffering from decay could exceed half of the world’s population, according to researchers.
In addition to causing toothache, chronic decay and cavities can cause individual’s suffering from condition to experience problems eating and sleeping due to the pain, which qualifies, medically speaking, as a type of disability. Considering the effects long-term decay can have on the rest of the body, researchers believe it clear that oral health has become a global concern.
Research also showed that globally, oral health problems were beginning to shift from mild decay and moderate tooth loss to severe cases of periodontitis, the most advanced form of gum disease and leading cause of tooth loss in adults. This suggests that a growing segment of the world’s population is headed towards severe tooth loss and declining health. Overall, the number of people suffering from oral disease has grown by 20 percent over the last 20 years, according to researchers.
The prevention of tooth decay and gum disease starts at home by practicing quality oral hygiene. In many places throughout the world, oral care products such as toothpaste, mouth wash, and toothbrushes remain in scare supply.
Education also plays an important role in protecting oral health. Population groups that don’t understand the importance of practicing quality oral care have a tendency to ignore their oral health, which increases their risk of decay and infection. Unlike in the United States, fluoride isn’t as widely used, which further contributes to oral health concerns.
With no clear solution available, global health experts anticipate oral health problems to continue to grow, as billions of people will remain underserved and at risk. However, researchers hope that the results of this study will help to shift global perspective and make treating tooth decay a priority. Until that occurs, the future of the world’s oral health remains little to smile about.