The Top 3 Countries Providing Excellent Oral Healthcare

Denmark, Sweden, and Japan are examined as the top three countries providing excellence in oral healthcare.

By Noelle Copeland, RDH

The landscape of dental care varies globally, reflecting diverse healthcare systems, cultural nuances, and government policies that interplay strongly within borders. This article sheds light on the exemplary approaches of three nations leading the way in dental care excellence.

Before delving into the top three choices, it is crucial to understand some overall criteria guiding the process. The oral health of a country is primarily based on its wealth, with low economic states having higher rates of oral disease and a common trend toward low access to professional care providers.

Factors that increase the prevalence of oral diseases include the Decayed-Missing-Filled-Teeth (DMFT) index score, the number of dentists available per 100,000 people, the proportion of dental schools in the region, regular accessibility to dental services, and technological innovations duly play a significant role.

1. Denmark

  • Denmark's comprehensive dental care system emphasizes strong preventive measures, leading to a low rate of oral disease over a lifetime.
  • Government initiatives promote dental education and regular check-ups, ensuring early intervention.
  • Denmark sets the standard in its comprehensive dental care system, prioritizing preventive measures to achieve and maintain minimal rates of oral diseases. Government initiatives actively promote oral health intelligence through education within communities and schools. These programs encourage and provide regular dental exams, with active preventive dentistry, while ensuring early intervention is accomplished when necessary.
  • Denmark initiated the Child Dental Health Care Act in 1972, which mandated municipalities to establish dental clinics. These clinics were tasked with offering essential and preventive dental services to children without any cost. Given the compulsory education system in Denmark, integrating free dental services within the school system proved to be an effective and streamlined approach.
  • The success of Denmark's approach is evident in its population's remarkable oral health, reflected in a DMFT index score of 0.4, showcasing the efficacy of their preventive strategies. The Danish Health Authority's dedication to oral health is a model for countries aspiring to establish successful and accessible dental care systems, highlighting the significance of education and early intervention.

2. Sweden

  • Sweden's public-private collaboration ensures widespread access to dental services.
  • Government-supported research initiatives drive continuous improvement in dental treatments.
  • Sweden's exemplary dental health system is driven by a unique blend of accessibility and patient-focused care, with an impressive 80 plus dentists per 100,000 citizens. With a commitment to preventive measures, the government invests significantly in public dental health programs, ensuring early detection and intervention.
  • Sweden's “Public Dental Service” (PDS or “Folktandvården”) is a significant contributor to its standing, offering nationwide oral healthcare. The PDS is financed through tax revenues and patient fees and is staffed by salaried personnel who serve urban communities and sparsely populated areas throughout the country.
  • Sweden ensures subsidies for citizens under 23, fostering a culture of oral care initiatives that have led to Swedish children having some of the lowest rates of oral disease.
  • Swedish dentists are also known for their advanced training and patient education, offering detailed insights into oral health practices for their patients. This holistic approach, combining accessibility, education, and patient empowerment, positions Sweden at the forefront of global dental health excellence.

3. Japan

  • Japan is recognized as a welfare state with a highly developed public healthcare system.
  • Government campaigns promote regular dental check-ups, contributing to the population's overall health with increased access to care for everyone, including older adults.
  • Japan has some of the highest dental care utilization visits, with low out-of-pocket expenses.
  • In 1961, Japan implemented a comprehensive universal health insurance system covering nearly all medical, dental, and pharmacy needs for the entire population. This ensures that people can access treatment at a comparatively affordable cost, with standardized fees applied nationwide.
  • Japan also integrates dental care into general medical care and long-term health care systems. Strategies include cooperative care for hospitalized patients, oral care for cancer patients, and periodontal treatment guidelines for those with diabetes.
  • Additionally, Japan responded to the challenges posed by its impressive aging population in 2000 by introducing a "long-term care insurance" program. This program was designed to provide health and welfare services tailored to longevity support for the senior population.
  • With Japan's elderly population continuing to grow, dental treatment strategies have been integrated into long-term care systems. Mobile dental services, covered by universal health insurance since 1988, serve disabled citizens who cannot visit clinics. Public long-term care insurance includes oral care for older people with special needs and disabilities, emphasizing preventive services that truly embrace Japan.

Global Trends in Dental Care: Challenges and Opportunities

At the forefront of dental excellence, these leading nations share common trends shaping the future of oral healthcare. These include a significant pivot towards mandatory preventive care and an unwavering commitment to patient education and healthcare support.

Together, these trends form a global paradigm, placing proactive oral health measures at the heart of the evolving landscape of dental care, proving that when access to care is funded and sovereign, oral health intelligence rises.

While these countries excel in dental care and oral health initiatives, challenges such as oral health disparities and workforce shortages persist globally.

International collaboration presents an opportunity to address these challenges collectively, fostering knowledge exchange and mutual support. By staying informed about global trends, dental professionals worldwide can draw inspiration from these leading countries. Opportunities for professional development and collaboration will undoubtedly be the point of change needed for others to follow.


The top-ranking countries in dental care epitomize a harmonious blend of action, education, and accessibility. Drawing inspiration from these leaders, the dental community can collectively work towards a future where high-quality oral healthcare is universally accessible, setting the stage for a paradigm shift in global dental care standards.

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Author: Noelle Copeland, RDH, brings over 28 years of clinical dental experience to her role as a leading oral health practitioner. Specializing in health science copywriting and dental content creation, Noelle serves as a trusted and regular ghostwriter for industry giants like Dentsply Sirona, Align Technology, Trivium Test Prep, and Reality Works, Inc. She is an established dental copywriter and was the leading dental expert on "The Brilliant Oral Care Podcast" on Spotify. Noelle continues to offer her expertise and knowledge in the dental field to brands, private practices, and dental corporations.

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