Sugars and dental caries
Technical information note
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.