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The 20th of March of every year is set aside by the FDI World Dental Federation to celebrate the oral health. The theme for this year is ”Unite for Mouth Health”.

This day is celebrated to spread the message about the importance of oral health, good hygiene and risk factor management in maintaining general health and well-being. 

Despite being a prominent part of the human body, the mouth is one of the least understood part, this results in so many long-standing debilitating mouth diseases which can result in death in some cases.

Why is the world oral health day celebrated on March 20 of every year. Read to learn more.

World Oral Health Day was first declared in 2007 and was originally celebrated on 12 September – the birth date of FDI founder Dr Charles Godon.

However, the campaign was not fully activated until 2013, after the date was changed to 20 March to avoid conflict with the FDI World Dental Congress taking place in September.

The new date was chosen to reflect that:

  • Seniors must have a total of 20 natural teeth at the end of their life to be considered healthy
  • Children should possess 20 baby teeth
  • Healthy adults must have a total of 32 teeth and 0 dental cavities
  • Expressed on a numerical basis this can be translated as 3/20 hence March 20

Awareness about the mouth health is important because of the following key facts, according to the WHO

  • Oral diseases pose a major health burden for many countries and affect people throughout their lifetime, causing pain, discomfort, disfigurement and even death.
  • These diseases share common risk factors with other major noncommunicable diseases.
  • It is estimated that oral diseases affect nearly 3.5 billion people ?
  • Untreated dental caries (tooth decay) in adult teeth is the most common health condition according to the Global Burden of Disease 2017
  • More than 530 million children suffer from dental caries(tooth decay) of primary teeth (milk teeth).
  • Severe periodontal (gum) disease, which may result in tooth loss, is also very common, with almost 10% of the global population affected.
  • Oral cancer (cancer of the lip or mouth) is one of the three most common cancers in some countries of Asia and the Pacific.
  • Treatment for oral health conditions is expensive and usually not part of universal health coverage (UHC). In most high-income countries, dental treatment averages 5% of total health expenditure and 20% of out-of-pocket health expenditure.
  • Most low- and middle-income countries are unable to provide services to prevent and treat oral health conditions.
  • Factors contributing to oral diseases are an unhealthy diet high in sugar, use of tobacco and harmful use of alcohol.
  • Most oral health conditions are largely preventable and can be treated in their early stages.


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