Oral diseases are among the most common diseases in the world. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2016 estimated that oral diseases affected half of the world’s population (3.58 billion people). It also stated that ‘there is a direct correlation between dental health and overall health’.
The estimated cost of dental healthcare in the EU is €80 billion. In Ireland, 83% of dental costs are paid out of pocket and covered privately by the individual. To compound matters, costs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have risen at dental practices. Apart from tooth loss and gum health, more than 120 diseases can be identified and diagnosed by markers present in the mouth, including coronary heart disease, diabetes and oral cancers, while loss of teeth can be linked to depression. This makes dental care a vital component of overall health and wellbeing.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have highlighted that our world is an unequal one. As COVID-19 has highlighted, some people are able to live healthier lives and have better access to health services than others. This is due to the conditions in which they are born, grow, live, work and age. Throughout the world, some do struggle to make ends meet which in turn, leads to unnecessary suffering, avoidable illness and premature death, as well as harming our economy and society.