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The Case for Investing in Oral Health

The Case for Investing in Oral Health

May 23, 2024

New World Economic Forum report, co-authored by Dr. Maria Ryan, EVP and Chief Clinical Officer, highlights how investing in oral health can lead to better overall health for all

In a world where we often focus on big health issues like heart disease and cancer, there's one important area that sometimes gets overlooked: our smiles. A new report by the World Economic Forum, co-authored by Dr. Maria Ryan, EVP and Chief Clinical Officer, reminds us just how crucial it is to take care of our oral health and why investing in it can make a big difference in our lives.

The Neglected Global Issue: Oral Diseases

Your oral health isn't just about having a nice smile. It's connected to your overall well-being. When we neglect our oral health, we can run into other challenges. Oral diseases affect an estimated 3.5 billion people each year – 1 billion more than mental disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and all cancers combined – and contribute to a global economic burden of $710 billion across treatment costs and productivity losses.

But the impact goes beyond the numbers. Poor oral health can affect education and work too. Children with untreated dental problems often miss school days, which can hold them back in their studies and future careers. Poor oral health can lead to hindered employment prospects and work productivity losses. And it's usually the most vulnerable people who suffer the most from these issues, making existing inequalities even worse.

man and child brushing their teeth in front of a mirror

Embracing a Healthier Future

To shine a light on the true cost of neglected oral health on a global scale, Colgate-Palmolive, whose Colgate brand is in more homes than any other, joined Henry Schein and the American Dental Association  in support of the World Economic Forum’s new report “The Economic Rationale for a Global Commitment to Invest in Oral Health.” 

“As the scientific support of the connections between often neglected oral health and overall health and wellbeing continue to grow, the need for an economic rationale for investment in oral health became imperative,” says Dr. Maria Ryan, EVP and Chief Clinical Officer. “As a leader in oral health, Colgate was proud to initiate an effort, with partners and other stakeholders, to highlight the impact of poor oral health on the global economy and to suggest key actions to elevate oral health within the global health agenda in support of our purpose of reimagining a healthier future for all.”

There are simple actions we can all take to support healthier smiles. Simple habits like brushing and flossing twice a day for two-minutes each time, using a fluoride toothpaste and cutting back on sugary snacks and drinks can make a big difference. And if you do need to see a dentist, don't put it off. Getting regular check-ups can help catch problems early and save you a lot of pain – and money – down the road.

So, let's make oral health a priority. By investing in our smiles today, we can build a healthier, happier future for ourselves and for generations to come. After all, a healthy smile is something we can all be proud of.

Read the full report here.

And to learn more about your oral health, take Colgate-Palmolive’s free oral health assessment at

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