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Chin J Dent Res. 2016;19(4):191-206. doi: 10.3290/j.cjdr.a37144.

Comparison of Oral Health Status in Asia: Results for Eight Emerging and Five High Income Countries or Regions and Implications.



To review the burden of oral disease by investigating the current situation of oral health status in selected countries within the regions of South, East and South-East Asia, with a view to determining which countries are performing better than others and why.


The study is descriptive and observational in nature and the material is derived from existing databases. As this is a cross-sectional investigation, it offers evidence about relationships and influencing factors. If available, the longitudinal data is integrated.


Amongst the emerging countries, the Chinese enjoy a relatively favourable dental health status and amongst the high income countries, the South Koreans exhibit the best dental health status by comparison. In contrast to the above-mentioned perception, caries levels are relatively low and occur in the early stages in most of the emerging Asian countries investigated, even though, for the most part, caries and periodontitis remain untreated. The hypothesis that, when countries climb the socioeconomic development ladder, caries levels increase and worsen if left untreated, leading to edentulousness, cannot be confirmed for most of the developing Asian countries under investigation. Probable reasons for this surprising finding is discussed and found to be in line with current knowledge in cariology. Interestingly, the high income Asian countries under investigation perform better than many Western European countries.


Under the specific circumstances prevailing in the Asian countries under investigation, a preventive and tooth preserving dental strategy for the entire population should offer emerging countries great opportunities to maintain a relatively low level of caries. Utilising a strategy of this ilk, these countries could achieve improved dental health across the population with comparatively low resources.

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