Dental-conscious countries: Which countries have the healthiest teeth?

Hannah Norton

Sep 20, 2023

If there’s one thing we’re constantly reminded about to look after, it’s our teeth – and for good reason. Not only is good dental hygiene incredibly important for keeping our mouth in tip-top condition, but if you stop brushing regularly, you might very well join the 45% of the world’s population that suffers from some form of oral disease.1

Fortunately, if you stick to the morning and evening brushing routine we’re all treated to growing up, floss regularly, watch your diet, and avoid excessive smoking and alcohol, the risk of many of these diseases can be reduced.2

Visits to the dentist can be notoriously expensive, and poor dental hygiene can mean paying more for things like fillings, whitening or cleanings! As experts in health insurance and dental cover, we decided to analyse data from both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and World Population Review to uncover which country in the world has the best oral hygiene.

To this end, we looked at the number of dentists per 10,000 people, the percentage of the population who smoke, and the average annual sugar and alcohol intake per capita in 134 countries around the world to give each one a total score out of 6 based on these criteria.

Here’s what we found out.

Image showing the top 10 countries with the healthiest teeth.

Countries with the best dental hygiene

According to our research, the country with the healthiest teeth is Sweden.

With a total score of 4.615 out of 6, Sweden boasts 17.73 dentists per 10,000 people (the best on our list), a smoking rate of 8% (the 9th lowest of all 134 countries), and an average annual alcohol intake of 9.04 litres per capita. This shows just how effective the Swedish healthcare system is, and how much they care about their health in general.

After Sweden comes the South American countries of Uruguay and Paraguay, with total scores of 4.236 and 4.213 respectively. This is particularly interesting when you consider that 22% of the Uruguayan population are smokers and they consume a relatively high 39.56kg of sugar per capita, per year. Although, with 16.95 dentists per 10,000 people (the second highest on our list), they have the medical staff to keep up with this intake.

As for fourth place, we have another surprise ranking, with Cuba managing to score a grand total of 3.928. This is again in spite of its high smoking population, which accounts for over a quarter of its citizens (27%), and its very high sugar intake of 49.94kg (the second highest on our list). However, Cuba also has a low overall alcohol intake and 16.71 dentists per 10,000, which helps balance out these other factors.

Finally, in fifth place, we have El Salvador. Despite having just 8.47 dentists per 10,000 people, they still managed to acquire an overall score of 3.531. This is likely due to El Salvador’s population only hitting an average sugar and alcohol consumption of 23.15kg and 4.09 litres per capita, per year, respectively – which is towards the lower end of our list.

Countries with the worst dental hygiene

So, now that we’ve looked at the best countries for dental hygiene, let’s turn our attention to those who need to take a little more care with their teeth.

Coming in at the very bottom of our ranking was the small oceanic island of Kiribati. With a permanent population of just over 119,000, this tiny nation only has 0.68 dentists per 10,000 people. And while their yearly alcohol consumption is very low at just 2.32 litres per person, over half the population (52%) regularly smoke, which, coupled with a very high sugar intake of 48.12kg per year, per person, unfortunately pushes Kiribati to the bottom of our list.

Next – and only just above Kiribati – comes South Africa, which again appears to be a nation in desperate need of more dentists. In fact, South Africa has only 1.11 dentists per 10,000 people while also having one of the highest smoking populations, sitting at 31% overall. Add to this a relatively high rate of alcohol consumption and it’s not hard to see why this nation scored so low.

And as for our third, fourth, and fifth-placed countries, we have Nauru, Cambodia, and Barbados, which each have a total score of 1.501, 1.589, and 1.642 out of 6 respectively.

Again, this is in large part due to a lack of available dentists, with Cambodia having just 0.86 per 10,000 people. Add to this high smoking rates and sugar intake in these countries and it’s once again not difficult to see why these nations scored so low in our rankings.

As Head of Health Insurance at Compare the Market Australia, Lana Hambilton, understands the importance of regular dental hygiene when it comes to saving money at the dentist.

“It can be easy to let our dental hygiene fall to the wayside amidst the pressures of daily life,” Hambilton said.

“However, it is important to remember that doing so can not only be harmful for our health, but also for our wallet.

“Neglecting oral health can increase the risk of needing more than a simple clean and scale or a filling, and in more serious cases it can even lead to major dental surgery in hospital.

“From basic cleans to dental surgery, private health insurance can provide financial relief. For visits to the dentist outside the hospital, an extras policy can contribute to the cost of  services such as general check-ups, root canals, crowns, dentures and more. Where you are admitted to hospital, hospital coverage can assist. Depending on your needs, you may benefit from a combination of the two,” Hambilton explained.

“There can also be great value in having family cover if you have young ones. By utilising your health insurance and encouraging an early start to good dental hygiene, your children could not only avoid developing a fear of dental visits, but also prevent oral issues from arising down the track.”

If you are in the market for health insurance in Australia, Compare the Market’s free, online tool can help you to compare different options and find coverage appropriate for you and your family’s individual circumstances.



Data sources:


This dataset ranks countries across the world, based on how good they are for healthy teeth. To do this, 4 different factors were used. Once the data for the factors was collected, the factors were then normalised, to provide each factor with a score between 0 and 1.

Weighing was then applied to the factors, with the number of dentists per 10,000 being weighted x3. If data was not available, a score of 0 was given. The normalised values were then summed, to give each country a total score out of 6. The locations were then ranked from highest to lowest, based on their total scores.

The factors are as follows:

  • Dentists per 10,000 – The number of dentists per 10,000 people.
  • Smoking Rate – The % of the population that smoke.
  • Sugar Intake – The average amount of sugar in kg, consumed per capita each year.
  • Alcohol Intake – The average amount of alcohol in litres, consumed per capita each year.

The factors were normalised as follows:

  • Dentists per 10,000 – High values get a high score. Low values get a low score. Weighted x3.
  • Smoking Rate – Low values get a high score. High values get a low score.
  • Sugar Intake – Low values get a high score. High values get a low score.
  • Alcohol Intake – Low values get a high score. High values get a low score.

All data is correct as of 04/09/2023. The ranking data shown is a compilation of multiple data sources and may not be representative of real life. All data is accurate with regard to the sources provided.