Tooth loss rate in Europe – what is the trend?
PD Dr. Kristina Bertl, PhD MSc MBA
We always endeavour to improve the health of our patients’ teeth, but are we actually successful in achieving this? Has oral health in Europe actually improved in recent years/decades and are our patients actually losing fewer teeth? And, if so, what are the contributing factors here?
Two research groups from Germany and Sweden recently looked at this subject and combined and analysed the data from three large cross-sectional studies (Pitchika et al. 2022). This was done by comparing data from the following time periods:
- in the first German population, the comparison was from 1997 to 2014
- in the second German population, the comparison was from 1997–2001 to 2008–2012
- in the Swedish population, the comparison was from 2003 to 2013
This study focussed on the tooth loss rate; the number of healthy tooth surfaces and surfaces with fillings was also collected. Generally, the more recent examination time revealed a lower tooth loss rate and a higher number of healthy tooth surfaces. For example, the number of teeth among the participants at the more recent examination time increased by between +1 and almost +5 teeth depending on age and region. But what led to this positive development?
- The most important factors were considered to be a higher level of education, improved awareness of tooth health (above all in the sense of more frequent visits to the dentist and improved home oral hygiene habits) and increased use of electric tooth brushes and tools for interdental (area) cleaning.
- Other factors, which did, however, have less of an effect than those previously listed, were smoking and completion of periodontal therapy.
What conclusions can we draw from these results? First, we appear to be on the right track, and oral health in Europe has improved in recent years/decades! However, there is scope for us to improve further in the coming years, above all if we continue to work with our patients on developing home oral hygiene habits. Electric toothbrushes often produce a better result here, but interdental (area) cleaning is also something we need to focus on. And, of course, regular checks to ensure that small cavities or gingivitis do not become a big problem, which could in turn lead to tooth loss.
- Pitchika, V., Jordan, R. A., Norderyd, O., Rolander, B., Welk, A., Völzke, H., Holtfreter, B., & Kocher, T. (2022). Factors influencing tooth loss in European populations. Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 49(7), 642–653. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpe.13642