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More Than 3.5 Billion Lack Access to Quality Dental Care

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Scientist’s are calling for drastic reform surrounding dental care along with tighter restrictions on the sugar industry, as more than half of the world’s population struggle with poor oral hygiene. In a series published in The Lancet medical journal, scientists argue that with the rising number of oral disease and cancer cases, we must do more to provide better dental care.

Oral disease, which includes tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer, affects more than 3.5 billion people around the world. Untreated dental decay is the most common health problem globally, while lip and oral cancers are among the top 15 cancers in the world. 

Photo by Quang Tri NGUYEN on Unsplash

With a rising number of cases, the response to this global health crisis has been significantly underwhelming. “Current dental care and public health responses have been largely inadequate, inequitable and costly, leaving billions of people without access to even basic oral health care,” said Prof. Richard Watt, lead author of the study. 

Rather than championing a campaign of preventing cases of poor dental care, most developed nations have resorted to turning to high-tech treatments that simply cover up the damage that has already been caused. The rising number of poor dental care is thought to have a direct correlation with the sharp increase in sugar consumption among the population. 

A propensity for sugar is introduced to a child at a very early stage in life. Commercial baby foods contain disconcertingly highly levels of processed sugar, which serve as a strong encouragement for developing a love for sugar. 

Watt argues that globally, we need to transition toward implementing better methods of limiting our consumption of sugary products. “We need tighter regulation and legislation to restrict the marketing and promotion of sugary foods and drinks if we are to tackle the root causes of oral conditions,” says Watt.

Nationally, more than 100 million people lack dental coverage. Dental conditions that are left untreated can lead to a variety of health issues, including an increased risk for cancer and heart disease. In rural America alone, more than 43% of Americans lack access to consistent dental care. The dental crisis has progressed to the point where no facet of modern life has been untouched by the severity of this situation.

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