Oral health

Sugars and dental caries

Technical information note

Authors:
World Health Organization

Sugar and dental caries - WHO Technical Information Note

Publication details

Number of pages: 4
Publication date: 2017
Languages: English
WHO reference number: WHO/NMH/NHD/17.12

Downloads

Overview

Dental caries is a major public health problem globally and is the most widespread noncommunicable disease (NCD). It is also the most prevalent condition included in the 2015 Global Burden of Disease Study, ranking first for decay of permanent teeth (2.3 billion people) and 12th for deciduous teeth (560 million children).

Dental caries can be prevented by avoiding dietary free sugars. Moreover, dental caries is largely preventable through simple and cost-effective population-wide and individual interventions, whereas treatment is costly, and is often unavailable in low- and middle-income countries.

In low-income countries, the majority of dental caries goes untreated. Teeth affected by caries are often extracted (pulled out) when they cause pain or discomfort.

Severe dental caries can impair quality of life. For example, dental caries may cause difficulties in eating and sleeping, and in its advanced stages (abscesses), it may result in pain and chronic systemic infection. Dental caries is also associated with adverse growth patterns. Further, tooth decay is a frequent cause of absence from school or work.

Related links