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21 March 2017

Journal of Dental Research Systematic Analysis Examines Global Burden of Oral Conditions

The International and American Associations for Dental Research (IADR/AADR) recently published a systemic analysis in the Journal of Dental Research. Authored by Wagner Marcenes, King’s College London Dental Institute, “Global Burden of Oral Conditions in 1990-2015: A Systemic Analysis” examines data to assess progress toward the Federation Dental International (FDI), World Health Organization (WHO) and IADR Oral Health Goals of reducing the level of oral diseases and minimizing their impact by 2020. The Principle Investigator of the GBD study was Professor Chris Murray of the University of Washington in Seattle.


Due to demographic changes, including population growth and aging, the cumulative burden of oral conditions dramatically increased between 1990 and 2015. The number of people with untreated oral conditions rose from 2.5 billion in 1990 to 3.5 billion in 2015, with a 64 percent increase in disability-adjusted life year (DALYs) due to oral conditions throughout the world. Despite some challenges with current measurement methodologies for oral diseases, measurable specific oral health goals should be developed to advance global public health.

Marcenes, the oral health lead and his team of researchers concluded that oral health did not improve in the 25 year time period studied, and that oral conditions remained a major and growing global public health challenge in 2015. While the age-standardized prevalence of oral conditions remained relatively stable between 1990 and 2015, population growth and aging have led to a dramatic increase in the burden of untreated oral conditions throughout the world. Greater efforts, and potentially different approaches, are needed if international oral health goals are to be achieved by 2020.

Professor Marcenes comments: “Our findings are set to shake up the setting of health priorities around the world, providing an unparalleled amount of up-to-date, comparable data on the diseases, risk factors, disabilities, and injuries facing populations.”

"The widespread belief that the prevalence of oral diseases has been dramatically reduced over the past 40 years was based on small sets of data and need to be reviewed.”

The GBD study data showed that oral health has not improved during the last 25 years. A significant increase in the burden of oral conditions was observed in high- and low-income countries, mainly due to aging and growing population. Significant increases in the burden of oral conditions was observed even in high-income countries such as the USA and the UK.

Therefore, “greater efforts and maybe a different strategy is needed if the World Health Organisation goal of reducing the burden of oral conditions is to be achieved by 2020. In addition, oral health goals and policies development may be more effective and efficient if based on up-to-date descriptive epidemiology of the highest quality,” he concludes.

 The paper can be viewed here.