At least 73 million Filipinos suffer from dental caries, making the disease a "serious health concern" in the Southeast Asian country, the Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) said on Wednesday.
"Dental caries is a silent epidemic," Manuel Vallesteros, a division chief at the DOH's disease prevention and control bureau, told reporters after a committee hearing at the House of Representatives.
Vallesteros said the DOH data is based on the 2018 national health survey, noting that the number now is much higher as the COVID-19 pandemic had restricted access to dental services for more than two years.
He noted that 8 of 10 Filipino children suffer from "childhood caries" or "decaying baby teeth" because they are fed with sweetened infant formula.
"The oral health status of Filipino children is alarming," the DOH said, adding the oral disease "continues to be a serious public health problem" in the Philippines.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dental caries is a major global public health problem and the most widespread non-communicable disease.