The Global Costs of Dental Disease


Think your last dental bill was high? On a global scale, treating dental diseases cost $298 billion in 2010, according to the International and American Associations for Dental Research (IADR/AADR).That’s 4.6% of the total global health expenditures. ($6.5 trillion in 2010)

The newly released study, “Global Economic Impact of Dental Diseases,” also found that indirect costs associated with dental conditions amounted to an additional $144 billion, making the total global economic impact of dental diseases $442 billion in 2010.

It’s highly likely that costs have risen since then. A recent study conducted in Canada found that oral diseases result in more than $1 billion in productivity losses yearly in Canada. And a recent US study found that the labor market value of one bad tooth to was nearly $720 per year for full-time, female worker earning $11 an hour.

In “Global Economic Impact of Dental Diseases,” direct costs were identified as overall expenditures for dental health care, including public and private expenditures. Indirect costs addressed productivity losses due to the most common oral conditions: untreated cavities, severe periodontitis, and severe tooth loss.

According to the study, oral diseases affect an average of 3.9 billion people worldwide. Untreated cavities in permanent (adult) teeth were the most prevalent condition, affecting 35% of people. Severe periodontitis and untreated caries in primary teeth (baby teeth) teeth were the sixth and tenth most prevalent conditions, affecting 11% and 9% of the global population.

$244.4 billion of the expenditures occurred in high-income regions including North America, Western Europe, Asia-Pacific, Australasia, and Southern Latin America. $14.06 billion was expended in Latin America and the Caribbean, $12.84 billion in South Asia, $9.32 billion in Central Europe and Central Asia combined, $8.33 billion in North Africa and the Middle East, $5.79 billion in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania, and $2.96 billion in Sub-Saharan Africa.

To estimate indirect costs, the researchers factored in 2010 figures on gross domestic product per capita from the International Monetary Fund, as well as estimates on the toll of oral disease from the US Global Burden of Disease Study. The indirect costs totaled $144 billion yearly — Therefore, the present study’s estimate for productivity loss due to dental diseases ($144B) may be interpreted in the sense that indirect costs due to dental diseases worldwide correspond to economic losses within the range of the 10 most frequent global causes of death.

The study’s authors suggest that improvements in oral health worldwide would provide benefits not only in terms of reducing treatment costs, but could also help improve productivity in the labor market.

“As the community works collaboratively to solve this need, it’s important to stay cognizant of the global economic burden of oral diseases so that we may continue to work toward improving oral health for all populations,” AADR Immediate Past President Timothy DeRouen said in a statement.


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