The International and American Associations for Dental Research (IADR/AADR) have published an article titled "Global Economic Impact of Dental Diseases" in the OnlineFirst portion of the Journal of Dental Research. In it, authors Stefan Listl, Jennifer Galloway, Peter Mossey and Wagner Marcenes estimate the direct and indirect costs of dental diseases worldwide.
Reporting the economic burden of oral diseases is important to evaluate the societal relevance of preventing and addressing oral diseases. In addition to treatment costs, there are indirect costs to consider, mainly in terms of productivity losses due to absenteeism from work. Estimation of direct treatment costs was based on a systematic approach.
For estimation of indirect costs, an approach suggested by the World Health Organization's Commission on Macroeconomics and Health was employed, which factored in 2010 values of gross domestic product per capita as provided by the International Monetary Fund and oral burden of disease estimates from the US Global Burden of Disease Study. Direct treatment costs due to dental diseases worldwide were estimated at US$298 billion yearly, corresponding to an average of 4.6% of global health expenditure. Indirect costs due to dental diseases worldwide amounted to US$144 billion yearly, corresponding to economic losses within the range of the 10 most frequent global causes of death.
Within the limitations of currently available data sources and methodologies, these findings suggest that the global economic impact of dental diseases amounted to US$442 billion in 2010. Improvements in population oral health may imply substantial economic benefits not only in terms of reduced treatment costs but also because of fewer productivity losses in the labor market.
"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," said expert and AADR Immediate Past President Timothy DeRouen. "As the community works collaboratively to solve this need, it's important to stay cognizant of the global economic burden of oral diseases so that we may continue to work toward improving oral health for all populations."