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Oral Health Research

How much time is lost due to dental problems and treatment in Canada?

This abstract is presented by the JCDA Oasis Team from the article published in the BMC Oral Health open-access journal: Time loss due to dental problems and treatment in the Canadian population: analysis of a nationwide cross-sectional survey


  • Alyssa Hayes, Discipline of Dental Public Health, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto
  • Amir Azarpazhooh, Assistant Professor, Dental Public Health, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto
  • Laura Dempster, Assistant Professor, Dept of Biological and Diagnostic Sciences, University of Toronto
  • Vahid Ravaghi, Oral Health & Society Research Unit, Faculty of Dentistry, McGill University
  • Carlos Quiñonez, Assistant Professor and Program Director, Dental Public Health, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto

Full Text (PDF)


The purpose of this study was to quantify time loss due to dental problems and treatment in the Canadian population, to identify factors associated with this time loss, and to provide information regarding the economic impacts of these issues.


Data from the 2007/09 Canadian Health Measures Survey were used. Descriptive analysis determined the proportion of those surveyed who reported time loss and the mean hours lost. Linear and logistic regressions were employed to determine what factors predicted hours lost and reporting time loss respectively. Productivity losses were estimated using the lost wages approach.


Over 40 million hours per year were lost due to dental problems and treatment, with a mean of 3.5 hours being lost per person. Time loss was more likely among privately insured and higher income earners. The amount of time loss was greater for higher income earners, and those who reported experiencing oral pain. Experiencing oral pain was the strongest predictor of reporting time loss and the amount of time lost.


This study has shown that, potentially, over 40 million hours are lost annually due to dental problems and treatment in Canada, with subsequent potential productivity losses of over $1 billion dollars. These losses are comparable to those experienced for other illnesses (e.g., musculoskeletal sprains). Further investigation into the underlying reasons for time loss, and which aspects of daily living are impacted by this time loss, are necessary for a fuller understanding of the policy implications associated with the economic impacts of dental problems and treatment in Canadian society.


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