5 Countries with the Worst Oral Health

July 31, 2017
Nour Seleem

Oral disease is a health crisis that leaves its mark on communities around the globe. Though staggering regional oral health disparities exist in the U.S., its overall rate of toothlessness and decay comes nowhere close to these five countries. Take a look below to find out which nations are affected the most by poor oral health.

In the countries on this list, oral disease affects citizens of all ages.

There are 195 countries, 7 billion people and an estimated 210 billion teeth all around the world.

Thanks to factors such as income inequality, geographic circumstances and limited access to health care, there is also a lot of opportunity for poor oral health. We’ve compiled a list of countries with the worst oral health around the world. Featuring nations from across four continents, this list will surprise even the savviest dental professional.

5. Poland

This Eastern European country has one of the highest tooth decay rates in the world. The average amount of decayed, missing, or filled teeth for children under 12 is a shocking four teeth. This country is considered to have the worst oral health in all of Europe.

4. Bolivia

This country nestled in the middle of South America has some of the worst oral health in the region. Twelve-year-olds have an average of four decayed, missing, or filled-in teeth. A study also suggests that only 50 percent of students own a toothbrush.

3. Australia

This Western country may come as a surprise on this list, but its statistics earn it the number 3 spot. Nearly half of all 6-year-olds have tooth decay in their baby teeth. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children between ages four and 15 are more likely to experience dental disease.

2. India

This subcontinent with over a billion people was bound to make the list. India’s National Oral Health Program reports that 95 percent of all adults have gum disease, and 50 percent of citizens don’t use a toothbrush. The program also noted that 70 percent of children under the age of 15 have dental caries.

1. Philippines

This island nation located in between the South China Sea and the Philippine Sea takes the cake (literally and figuratively) of the worst oral health in the world. The Philippines College of Dentistry found that nearly 90 percent of Filipinos suffer from tooth decay. Another astonishing finding is that nearly 100 percent of children between 3 and 5 years old have cavities. For a country that is less than half the size of Texas, those are some staggering numbers!

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Oral health inefficiencies should be treated similiarly to a health crisis. The

World Health Organization (WHO) states, "[O

ral diseases]'s impact on individuals and communities, as a result of pain and suffering, impairment of function and reduced quality of life, is considerable."

While education and preventative measures are a key to curbing the impact of poor oral health in these coutnries, access to care to treat current and future cases is another major hurdle.

WHO goes on to state, "Traditional treatment of oral disease is extremely costly, the fourth most expensive disease to treat in most industrialized countries. In low-income countries, if treatment were available, the costs of dental caries alone in children would exceed the total health care budget for children.

For more on dental health across the country check out:

  • The 10 Highest-Paying States for Dentists
  • The Top and Bottom 10 Cities for Operating Efficiency
  • Pediatric Dental Surgeon Brings Smiles to Tiny Faces

Updated: August 28, 2018