March 20 is World Oral Health Day: Achieving Healthy Smiles All Year Round

What is World Oral Health Day (WOHD)?

World Oral Health Day (WOHD) is celebrated every year on 20 March. It is an international day to highlight the benefits of a healthy mouth and promote worldwide awareness of issues around oral health and the importance to everyone old and young of looking after oral hygiene.

It is a day for people to have fun – a day that should be full of activities that make us laugh, sing and smile!

Why is WOHD important?

WOHD is important because 90% of the world’s population will suffer from oral diseases in their lifetime. Many of them can be avoided with increased governmental, health association and society support and funding for awareness, prevention, detection and treatment programmes. In addition, World Oral Health Day offers the dental and oral health community a platform for action to help reduce the global oral disease burden.

What is the theme for WOHD 2014?

The theme is “World Oral Health Day 2014, Celebrating healthy smiles”- because having a healthy mouth is cause for celebration! Our efforts will be on protecting the worldwide population’s teeth and mouth throughout life, from childhood to adulthood.

This umbrella concept is complemented with the addition of various taglines highlighting the enjoyable things we can do when we have a healthy mouth and a healthy smile: Eat, laugh, kiss, brush, whistle, rinse, chew… for a healthy mouth!

Who is the audience for WOHD 2014?

Everybody can take part in WOHD 2104: health associations, specialist groups, FDI member organizations and partners, governmental groups, the media, educational associations, schools, community groups, and members of the general public.

It is only by everyone playing their part that we will raise awareness and encourage people to take action to reduce all forms of oral disease.

Quick global facts on oral healthcare and diseases

  • 90% of the world’s population will suffer from oral disease in their lifetime, ranging from caries, periodontal diseases and tooth decay to oral cancer.

  • Only 60% of the world’s population enjoys access to oral healthcare.

  • 60%-90% of school children worldwide have dental caries.

  • Toothache is the number one reason for absenteeism from schools in many countries.

Although the burden of oral diseases is decreasing in developed countries, gum complications are becoming more common, especially in older people. Major risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use and a diet high in fat, salt and sugar contribute to a range of chronic diseases including oral disease.

The first line of oral health care is with the individual through prevention, especially twice-brushing daily with a fluoride toothpaste and regular check-ups.

There are over one million qualified dentists worldwide who, using modern dental treatments can restore almost all functions and aesthetics of a healthy dentition. However, they are not equally distributed around the world leaving many of the poorest and most needy regions with fewer than one dentist per 300,000 population.