Dental health is intrinsically linked to general health. It is estimated that the yearly global economic impact of dental diseases amounts to $442 billion. Researchers have suggested that improvement in oral health alone can offer the world substantial economic benefit.
The research by Stefan Listl from Heidelberg University in Germany, and colleagues estimated that the direct treatment costs due to dental diseases worldwide were at $298 billion yearly, corresponding to an average of 4.6% of global health expenditure. In addition to treatment costs, there are also indirect costs to consider, mainly in terms of productivity losses due to absenteeism from work.
Indirect costs due to dental diseases worldwide amounted to $144 billion annually, corresponding to economic losses within the range of the 10 most frequent global causes of death. Estimation of direct treatment costs was based on a systematic approach, while estimation of indirect costs was based on an approach suggested by the World Health Organization's Commission on Macroeconomics and Health.
This approach factored in 2010 values of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita as provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and oral burden of disease estimates from the US Global Burden of Disease Study.
Timothy DeRouen, former president of American Associations for Dental Research (AADR), said, "Through this study, the authors have amplified the message that we need to increase the availability of internationally comparable data on dental treatment costs, disease-specific absenteeism from work and school, as well as intangible costs of oral diseases in terms of quality of life."
The research is published by AADR and International Associations for Dental Research (IADR), and appeared online in Journal of Dental Research.