The Economic Burden of Oral Disease


Oral disease—the 4th most expensive disease to treat

By taking a curative approach, as opposed to a preventive approach, the WHO estimates that the cost of treating oral diseases is the fourth most expensive condition to treat.2

In 2014, dental spending was estimated to be over 113 billion dollars in the United States.3 Out-of-pocket costs account for 40% of the total spend for dental services.3 Advanced oral health systems that are found in high-income countries offer preventative and curative services to patients.2 By implementing public health measures, such as effective use of fluorides, changing living conditions, lifestyles and improved self-care practices, a reduction in caries has been observed.2

Despite advances in oral healthcare, the poor and disadvantaged populations of the world have yet to benefit.2 Inequalities and disparities in oral healthcare still exist and are prevalent both within and between countries.2 But if oral treatments were available in low-income countries, the costs of treating dental caries alone would exceed the total healthcare budget for children.1

In addition to direct expenses for oral care treatment estimated at about 6% of total healthcare expenditures, the indirect costs are high.2 Oral disease can lead to poor concentration and absence, resulting in a loss of millions of school and work hours annually across the world.2 Each year, more than 51 million school hours are lost due to dental-related illness.4 For employed adults, dental disease or dental visits are responsible for a loss of more than 164 million hours of work every year.4


The Economic Burden of Oral Disease Footnotes

References: 1. World Health Organization. Oral health: what is the burden of oral disease?. Accessed October 12, 2015. 2. FDI World Dental Federation. Oral health worldwide. Accessed November 9, 2015. 3. American Dental Association Health Policy Institute. No growth in U.S. dental spending in 2013. Accessed November 9, 2015. 4. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Oral health in America: a report of the Surgeon General (executive summary). Accessed July 9, 2015.