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#4 "Global Oral Health Burden" Oluwadayo Oluwadara MS, PhD, DDS, Grad Cert Oral Pathology (NCGN)


by Oluwadayo Oluwadara MS, PhD, DDS, Grad Cert Oral Pathology
for Oluwadara Dental Corporation - www.Oludent.org

Did you know oral diseases affect nearly 3.5 billion people worldwide? That's right, it's not just cavities and bad breath – oral health has a significant impact on our overall health, economy, and society. This article delves into the three tiers of the global oral health burden:

1️⃣Primary: The direct impact of the disease in your mouth.

2️⃣Secondary: How oral health affects your overall health (think heart disease, diabetes).

3️⃣Tertiary: The economic and social costs, including job loss and social isolation.


The primary burden of oral diseases is the real impact of the pathology, either at the clinical, structural or molecular level. The secondary burden of oral diseases is on overall systemic health. The tertiary burden is the grave economic impact, the negative societal impact up to loss of life.

The World Health Organization considers a worthwhile pursuit of achieving universal health coverage for oral health in 2030 (Ref: Global Oral Health Status Report). This will be a great achievement if the World can rally up to speed and a consortium of providers can deal with these issues.


Most times, oral health diseases may not kill acutely, hence it is not given the due attention to eradicate the burden, albeit it does need the World’s attention now!

The oral health burden may be described often as a slow, stack-wise, gradual incapacitation with steady reduction in quality of function, comfort and life.

Oral health is critical as a primary health care issue, but even now it is much more critical due to various systemic impacts of oral diseases. Through the spectrum of oral infections (bacteria, viruses, fungi), pro-cancer virus infection like oncogenic HPV strains, or nodular representation of tuberculosis in the mouth, chronic irritations, extensive gum, and periodontal diseases including complications of diabetes and heart conditions, autoimmune mucosal related diseases (mouth, skin, other mucosa tissues) to full blown cancer and malignancies, oral health burden has her signatures in red alert. A careful dentist may be the very first clinician to identify the first sign of acute leukemia in cases that present in the mouth as gum overgrowth and hyperplasia.

From a clinical, molecular, evidence-based and delivery of care perspective, let us look at this burden in seven segments: In today’s article, we will simply enumerate, and in future articles, we will fetch deeper into these segments.


Burden of the disease ab initio in the mouth for same individual

Systemic implications for overall health for same individual

Cross infections in family/families/Society. Cross continental spread of infections, oncogenic viruses, from one contact to the other.

Global disparities in clinical care, including access to oral health care across races and continents. Including access to global tele-dentistry care, mobile oral health delivery and oral health education and training

Presumed possible diagnostic aid functions, both current and in the future of the mouth and saliva with point of care devices driven by molecular signatures and clinical algorithm.

Personalized dental medicine as a result of years of careful collation of global oral health data across races, nations and continents as permitted by appropriate laws on clinical, molecular and evidence-based approaches.


Globalization and Intervention must be custom focused per race, locations, country and continent. Clinical interventions must be directed to this oral health burden not just in a generic uniform way, but to target race and region specific problems in a direct specific way, matching solutions to specificity of issues and burdens. This should be the parlance of clinical intervention regardless of the source of help-Government, Non-Governmental Institutions, World Health Organization initiatives, Consortium of dentist, Health Care Institutions, Insurance Companies, and of course USAID, that remains a major World player in various health care issues.


Regardless of the continents, Oral health remains a persistent burden.

A burden huge enough that we cannot leave it to chance to fix.


If oral health is allowed to worsen and not tackled at the level of oral health, it will escalate to systemic health, it is just a matter of time.

As we treat this monthly series on global oral heath burden, the goal is to raise a consortium of concerned skillful dentist, hygienist, dental assistants, allied health staff globally, insurance delivery systems and companies, insurance coverage domicile to individual Nations and across multi-Nations, government and non-governmental entities who can practically drive the World to better oral health and attain oral health coverage across countries, continents and geographical locations. May be the World might be a step closer to International Oral Health Insurance Coverage, if at the most in part and somewhat still regional.

There is a lot to learn about systemic health if we put attention and invest on oral health, the mouth, saliva and related oral tissues may provide lots of data about systemic health at all levels particularly at both Clinical and Molecular levels.

P.S. Stay tuned for future articles where we'll dive deeper into each segment of the oral health burden.

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