Facts, Figures and Stats

Oral disease: 10 key facts

  1. Oral disease affects 3.9 billion people worldwide1, with untreated tooth decay (dental caries) impacting almost half of the world’s population (44%), making it the most prevalent of all the 291 conditions included in the Global Burden of Disease Study2.
  2. Globally, between 60–90% of schoolchildren and nearly 100% adults have tooth decay, often leading to pain and discomfort3.
  3. Severe periodontal (gum) disease, which may result in tooth loss, is found in 15–20% of middle-aged (35–44 years) adults3.
  4. Severe periodontitis and untreated tooth decay in the primary teeth (milk teeth or baby teeth) are among the top 10 most prevalent of all conditions. Combined, these conditions affect 20% of the global population4.
  5. Globally, about 30% of people aged 65–74 years have no natural teeth3, a burden expected to increase in the light of ageing populations.
  6. Oral conditions are the fourth most expensive to treat. In the United States alone, US$110 billion are spent yearly on oral healthcare. In the European Union, annual spending on oral healthcare was estimated at €79 billion in the years 2008-2012, which is more than the money invested in the care of cancer or respiratory diseases1.
  7. Risk factors for oral disease include an unhealthy diet – particularly one rich in sugars – tobacco use, harmful alcohol use and poor oral hygiene.
  8. Oral disease is associated with significant pain and anxiety, as well as disfigurement, acute and chronic infections, eating and sleep disruption, and can result in an impaired quality of life. In developing countries, this is exacerbated due to the lack of pain control and treatment not being readily available5.
  9. Oral disease can impact every aspect of life – from relationships and self-confidence through to school, work, the ability to interact with others. It can also result in social isolation and reduced income5,6.
  10. Oral health is essential to maintaining general health and well-being.


  • Over the past 50 years, worldwide sugar consumption has tripled, an increase which is expected to grow – particularly in emerging economies (OHA 2015).
  • Dental caries is the most common chronic disease in the world – due to exposure to sugar and other risks – and is a major global public health problem affecting individuals, health systems and economies.
  • The World Health Organization recommends that the daily intake of free sugars be limited to less than 10% (or 50 g = around 12 teaspoons) of total energy intake in both adults and children. A further reduction to below 5% (or 25 g = around 6 teaspoons) of total energy intake would provide additional health benefits and help minimize the risk of dental caries throughout life.
  • Free sugars intake of above 60 g per person per day increases the rate of dental caries in teenagers and adults.
  • For pre-school and young children, free sugars intake should be proportional to that of teenagers, about 30 g per person per day.
  • Consuming free sugars more than four times a day leads to an increased risk of dental caries.
  • 65 countries in the world consume more than 100 g of sugars per person per day (twice the WHO-recommended amount).
  • Both the frequency and the quantity of sugars consumption are important factors in the causes of dental caries.
  • Excessive sugars intake causes serious dependence and quitting sugars consumption leads to withdrawal symptoms similar to withdrawal from morphine or nicotine.
  • Sugary drinks (such as soda, juice, energy and sports drinks) are a main source of ‘empty calories’, which contain high levels of energy and no nutritional value.
  • Excessive consumption of sugars from snacks, processed foods, and drinks causes worldwide increases in oral diseases, cardiovascular (heart) disease, cancer and diabetes.
  • Sugars and acids in sugary drinks weaken tooth enamel and can cause dental caries.
  • Consuming one can (355 mL) of a sugary drink per day can lead to a 6.5 kg weight gain in one year.
  • Drinking sugary drinks regularly—almost one can a day—increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 22%.
  • Sugars, particularly table sugar, are the most important dietary cause of dental caries in children and adults.
  • Dental caries is entirely preventable, yet it is the most widespread NCD and the most common childhood disease.
  • Almost 100% of adults and 60-90% of schoolchildren in the world have dental caries.
  • Dental caries is the fourth most expensive oral disease to treat and consumes 5–10% of healthcare budgets in industrialized countries.

For more information, please download FDI’s resource on sugar, Sugars and Dental Caries: A practical guide to reduce sugars consumption and curb the epidemic of dental caries

Stats from NCDA – FDI policy brief

  • Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide, responsible for 70% of global mortality every year. This figure is projected to reach 74% by 2030, creating a heavy and growing toll on the health and economic security of all countries. Increasingly, it is low- and middle-income countries and the poorest and most disadvantaged populations which are hardest hit by these largely preventable diseases
  • NCD co-morbidities are associated with greater healthcare utilization and financial burden including, in most cases, higher out-of-pocket expenditures which are often more than double for NCD co-morbidities than for a single NCD.

For more information, please download the FDI-NCD Alliance joint policy brief, Accelerating Action on Oral Health and NCDs: Achieving an integrated response

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