Burden of dental diseases rises sharply in UK

The UK is experiencing a dental health crisis, with people finding it increasingly difficult to access subsidized dental care through the National Health Service (NHS). The British Dental Association says that more than 12 million adults in England have unmet dental needs. British media reported that the lack of subsidized dental care has come into focus due to long queues to access dental services. GlobalData epidemiologists predict that if access to dental services does not improve quickly, dental disease cases will rise dramatically, causing economic hardship and increasing health burdens.

Unmet dental need among the UK population is very high, affecting all age groups. According to UK government statistics, tooth decay was the most common reason for admission to hospital in children aged 6 to 10 in 2021-22. The UK Oral Health Foundation reports that children miss an average of three days of school a year due to dental problems. Likewise, 31% of UK adults have dental caries requiring treatment and 74% will have a tooth extracted for dental reasons during their lifetime. The common theme in these statistics is a lack of early access to preventive dental care, which makes the situation worse.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dental disease is largely preventable. However, if left untreated, they can cause a significant health burden and affect people throughout their lives, causing pain, discomfort, and disfigurement. The World Health Organization estimates that dental disease affects nearly 3.5 billion people worldwide each year. Among dental diseases, untreated permanent teeth are the most common health condition and the leading cause of tooth loss.

Income and health inequality impact dental health

Several preventable risk factors contribute to dental disease, and these factors are also common in other non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and obesity. These factors include sugar, tobacco and alcohol intake, as well as poor oral hygiene. Social determinants such as income and health inequalities influence and worsen these health conditions.

GlobalData epidemiologists predict that by the end of 2024, there will be 13 million diagnosed cases of the obesity epidemic and 4.5 million diagnosed cases of the type 2 diabetes epidemic in the UK. Cases will rise simultaneously. The UK should improve the accessibility of NHS dental services by prioritizing and increasing short-term funding. However, in the medium to long term, a public health approach is needed to improve oral health. People should be encouraged to maintain a healthy and balanced diet and to minimize sugar and alcohol intake as well as tobacco use. Regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste should be encouraged as this reduces the risk of tooth decay.In addition, dental health services should be reoriented to provide preventive dental care to the population

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