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World Oral Health Day: Brighter Smiles for All

World Oral Health Day occurs on March 20, under the FDI World Dental Federation, raising awareness about the value of good oral hygiene and the implications of poor oral health.  It reminds everyone that good oral health should be an everyday priority, regardless of age or background. Read on to learn more.

Featured in: March - Awareness Months, Days & Observances.

History and Background of World Oral Health Day

man smiling
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The FDI World Dental Federation established World Oral Health Day in 2007. A Swiss dentist, Dr. Charles Godon, founded the group in 1900; today, it represents over a million dentists globally. 

The choice of March 20 symbolizes the ideal number of baby teeth among children and the least number of teeth among adults among seniors to be considered healthy.

This event raises awareness of oral health worldwide and unites individuals, communities, and nations against oral diseases. It has grown since its inception and has received global recognition. 

Over 100 countries now observe World Oral Health Day. In 2019, the campaign set a Guinness World Record for the "most pledges received for a health campaign in one month." The World Health Organization has also recognized World Oral Health Day. 

Each year, the event focuses on a specific theme. The 2023 theme, "Be Proud of Your Mouth," encourages individuals to value their oral health and prioritize oral hygiene. In 2024, it will be “A Happy Mouth Is A Happy Body,” which emphasizes the connection of oral health with overall general health.

Related Read: World Health Day.

The Cause and Its Challenges

woman experiencing toothache
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World Oral Health Day aims to raise awareness about oral diseases such as tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer. These conditions can have serious consequences, including pain, lost work or school time, and even a threat to life itself. 

Limited access to dental care, especially in lower-income countries, further exacerbates the problem by delaying diagnosis and treatment. 

According to the World Health Organization, nearly 3.5 billion people worldwide are affected by oral diseases. Untreated dental caries in permanent teeth, commonly known as cavities or tooth decay, is the most common oral disease. Reaching more than 2 billion cases worldwide, it is also the most widespread non-communicable disease.

Fortunately, most oral diseases are preventable. Addressing modifiable risk factors such as smoking or drinking alcohol goes a long way in preventing them. Simple measures such as regular dental check-ups, a nutritious diet, and good oral hygiene can make a significant difference.

Efforts and Initiatives

The FDI World Dental Federation promotes and organizes World Oral Health Day events. They provide a range of resources and guides to highlight the importance of oral health. 

Likewise, Operation Smile is a non-profit organization in developing countries offering free surgeries to children and young adults with cleft lip and palate. This initiative is on the list since these facial deformations are associated with poor oral health, among many other problems.

Finally, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) conducts an annual Dental Health Week campaign emphasizing the importance of good oral health practices. They provide resources and information to help people understand how to take care of their oral health.

How to Get Involved and Support World Oral Health Day

brushing teeth
Photo by Greta Hoffman on Pexels.

World Oral Health Day encourages people to discuss oral health and its impact on overall well-being. Take this day to share information and resources for oral health care services. 

Visit or schedule an appointment with a dentist. Remember to encourage others to do the same.

Teach the younger generation how to brush their teeth properly. Also, remind yourself of other oral health practices like flossing and not rinsing with water immediately after brushing.

If you want to make a greener oral hygiene routine, check out bamboo brushes, zero-waste floss, and zero-waste toothpaste.

Finally, join fundraising activities that can help generate donations for organizations that provide oral health services to those who cannot access them.


World Oral Health Day draws attention to the significant influence of a healthy mouth not only on our overall well-being but also on health systems and economies worldwide. It highlights preventing oral diseases with regular self-care and professional intervention. Let’s aim to give ourselves and everyone healthy smiles all year round.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is World Oral Health Day?

This annual event happens on March 20. It raises awareness about the importance of oral health and its impact on overall well-being.

2. Why is oral health essential?

It affects our ability to speak, eat, and socialize. It also plays a significant role in preventing various diseases and maintaining overall health.

3. How can I achieve better oral health?

You can practice good oral hygiene, such as brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing at least once daily, and visiting the dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings.

4. What are some common oral health problems?

Typical oral health problems include tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, and oral cancer. Proper oral hygiene and regular dental care can prevent or manage these issues.

5. How can I support this event?

You can spread awareness about the importance of oral health through social media, organize educational events, or participate in local oral health campaigns and initiatives.

By Mike Gomez, BA.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

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