Report confirms cost savings of a preventative approach to oral health

Gold coins in a pile between two sets of plastic teeth
Australian Dental Association
29 February 2024
7 min read
Oral health

A white paper by the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP), Time to Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Addressing Inequalities in Oral Health, acknowledges the considerable cost savings to be gained by a preventative approach to oral health. 

Reported on by the Dental Tribune, the paper notes "that the combined global prevalence of dental caries and severe periodontitis has surpassed that of mental disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer, affecting roughly half of the global population." 

It goes on to acknowledge that much of the occurrence of dental caries and severe periodontitis worldwide happens against those in economically disadvantaged groups, who would benefit from the improved oral health outcomes of tackling these oral health disparities. 

Examining the direct costs of caries management for those aged 12-65 across a range of socio-economic groups in six countries (four European, plus Brazil and Indonesia), the white paper contains, in the words of EFP’s UK representative, Dr Nicola West, "opportunities for levelling up." 

The examination of these costs revealed that "4.9% of global healthcare expenditure goes towards treating preventable gingivitis, caries and tooth loss" with attendant costs stemming from lost productivity estimated at 4US188billion annually. 

In a bid to tackle these costs, there are two possible approach. 

One, in the words of Professor Nigel Potts from King’s College London who spoke at the launch event for the paper, involves "all the things you could possibly throw at prevention—upstream, midstream and downstream" while the other, the levelling-up approach previously referred to, priorities giving "more attention is given to those with the greatest burden." 

Dr Potts observed that the levelling-up approach "could have very significant economic benefits”, predicated on empowering populations with oral education that would guide changes in behaviour and “the establishment of good oral health habits from childhood”. 


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Access the white paper