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3.9 Billion People Suffer from Dental Problems: Report

Jun 01, 2013 09:44 AM EDT

(Photo : REUTERS/Mark Makela)

Close to four billion people suffer from untreated dental problems, according to a new report.

The report, ''The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study'(GBD) 2010 was led by Professor Wagner Marcenes of Queen Mary, University of London. Researchers found that about half of the world's population'- some 3.9 billion people - suffers from dental problems, and most don't get adequate treatment.

Dental caries - untreated cavities in permanent teeth - is the major dental disease that affects 35 percent of the world's population. This condition was the most common among the 291 diseases studied by the researchers.

"There are close to 4bn people in the world who suffer from untreated oral health conditions that cause toothache and prevent them from eating and possibly sleeping properly, which is a disability. This total does not even include small cavities or mild gum diseases, so we are facing serious problems in the population's oral health," said Marcenes in a news release.

The greatest burden due to oral diseases was found in Africa (Eastern, Central and Sub-Saharan) and in Oceana.

Although there has been a small decline in the burden of other diseases, mostly due to improved healthcare, the global burden of oral diseases has increased by 20 percent between 1990 and 2010. There has been a shift from tooth loss to severe dental caries in the past few years. Researchers say that this might be due to population growth and ageing.

"Tooth loss is often the final result when preventive or conservative treatments for tooth decay or gum disease fail or are unavailable. It is likely that current dental services are coping better to prevent tooth loss than in the past but major efforts are needed to prevent the occurrence and development of gum diseases and tooth decay. Ironically the longer a person keeps their teeth the greater the pressure on services to treat them," Marcenes said.

The report includes contributions from more than 500 researchers from across the world, who analyzed global data on all disease and injuries. The report commenced in the year 2007.

The study is published in the Journal of Dental Research.                                    

On a related note, about 47.2 percent of U.S. adults have some form of periodontal disease, according to "Prevalence of Periodontitis in Adults in the United States: 2009 and 2010."

Periodontal disease is the infections of gums and bones that support the teeth. In the early stages, the disease is called gingivitis. Later, as the disease progresses, the gums become swollen, red and even bleed. In some cases, the gums may come out and the teeth may fall off.

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