Despite vast improvement in global oral health, problems still persist in many communities and populations around the world - particularly among the under-privileged in both developed and developing countries.

The distribution and severity of oral diseases vary in different parts of the world and within the same country or region. Several oral epidemiological studies have been carried out applying WHO methodology and criteria1. Currently, the dental caries level is high in several American and European countries, while it appears less severe in most African countries. Figure 1 highlights the dental caries experience among 12-year-old children according to the six WHO regional offices in the year 20002,3, based on the DMFT (Decayed, Missing and Filled Teeth) index.

Figure 1

Figure 1: Dental caries experience (DMFT) of 12-year-old children according to WHO regional offices (Source: WHO Global Oral Health Data Bank and WHO Oral Health Country/Area Profile Programme, 2000)2,3