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.
The purpose of the present study was to estimate the direct and indirect costs of dental diseases worldwide to approximate the global economic impact. 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 2010 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.