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Global Oral Health Status Report: Towards UHC for Oral Health by 2030

by Public Health Update


The WHO Global oral health status report reviews the most recent data on major oral diseases, risk factors, health system challenges and opportunities for reform. The report’s clear conclusion is that the status of global oral health is alarming and requires urgent action. The report will serve as a reference for policy-makers and an orientation for a wide range of stakeholders across different sectors to guide advocacy towards better prioritization of oral health in global, regional and national contexts. In addition, the report provides, as a separate online resource, the first-ever country oral health profiles for all 194 WHO Member States, giving unique insights into key areas and markers of oral health that are relevant for decision-makers.


The report has three broad aims:

  1. outline the global public health importance and impact of oral diseases over the life course;
  2. contribute to the process of implementing the World Health Assembly 74.5 resolution on oral health at global, regional and country levels by providing baseline information; and
  3. encourage commitment and action from governments, United Nations (UN) organizations and nonstate actors such as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), academic institutions, philanthropic foundations, private-sector entities and other stakeholders to address oral diseases in the context of global health agendas.


  • The report shows that almost half of the world’s population (45% or 3.5 billion people) suffer from oral diseases, with 3 out of every 4 affected people living in low- and middle-income countries. Global cases of oral diseases have increased by 1 billion over the last 30 years—a clear indication that many people do not have access to prevention and treatment of oral diseases.
  • The most common oral diseases are dental caries (tooth decay), severe gum disease, tooth loss and oral cancers.  Untreated dental caries is the single most common condition globally, affecting an estimated 2.5 billion people. Severe gum disease  ̶  a major cause of total tooth loss  ̶  is estimated to affect 1 billion people worldwide.  About 380 000 new cases of oral cancers are diagnosed every year.
  • The report underscores the glaring inequalities in access to oral health services, with a huge burden of oral diseases and conditions affecting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations. People on low incomes, people living with disabilities, older people living alone or in care homes, those living in remote and rural communities and people from minority groups carry a higher burden of oral diseases.
  • This pattern of inequalities is similar to other noncommunicable diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and mental disorders. Risk factors common to noncommunicable diseases such as high sugar intake, all forms of tobacco use, and harmful use of alcohol all contribute to the global oral health crisis.
Barriers to delivering oral health services

Only a small percentage of the global population is covered by essential oral health services, and those with the greatest need often have the least access to services. The key barriers to delivering access to oral health services for all include:

  1. Oral health care requires high out-of-pocket expenditures. This often leads to catastrophic costs and significant financial burden for families and communities.
  2. The provision of oral health services largely relies on highly specialized providers using expensive high-tech equipment and materials, and these services are not well integrated with primary health care models.
  3. Poor information and surveillance systems, combined with low priority for public oral health research are major bottlenecks to developing more effective oral health interventions and policies.
Opportunities to improve global oral health

The report showcases many promising opportunities to improve the state of global oral health including:

  • adopting a public health approach by addressing common risk factors through promoting a well-balanced diet low in sugars, stopping use of all forms of tobacco, reducing alcohol consumption and improving access to effective and affordable fluoride toothpaste.
  • planning oral health services as part of national health and improving integration of oral health services in primary health care as part of universal health coverage.
  • redefining oral health workforce models to respond to population needs and expanding competencies of non-dental healthcare workers to expand oral health service coverage; and
  • strengthening information systems by collecting and integrating oral health data into national health monitoring systems.

DOWNLOAD REPORT (Global Oral Health Status Report)

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