DMFT – Decayed, Missing, and Filled Teeth. And Who Has The Best Teeth In The World?

What is DMFT

Dental caries, commonly known as tooth decay, is a prevalent oral health issue affecting people worldwide. To address this concern and assess the oral health of populations, dental professionals often use the Decayed, Missing, and Filled Teeth (DMFT) index

DMFT is a valuable tool that quantifies the prevalence and severity of dental caries in a given population. It provides crucial insights into oral health trends, aids in treatment planning, and enables public health officials to implement targeted interventions.

Components of DMFT

The DMFT index comprises three main components: Decayed (D), Missing (M), and Filled (F) teeth. Each component represents a distinct aspect of dental caries. 

  • The "D" component signifies the number of teeth with untreated caries, indicating active decay within the oral cavity.
  •  "M" represents teeth that are missing due to caries-related reasons, such as extractions or tooth loss. 
  • Finally, "F" denotes teeth that have undergone restorative treatment, such as fillings, to address carious issues.

By evaluating these components, dental professionals can gain a comprehensive understanding of an individual's oral health status.

DMFT in Dental Practice

In clinical settings, dentists utilise the DMFT index to assess patients' oral health, identify areas of concern, and formulate personalised treatment plans. During a dental examination, each tooth is examined for signs of decay, existing restorations, and missing teeth. 

The closer the DMFT value is to “0” the better. The DMFT score provides quantitative data that aids in diagnosing dental caries, monitoring disease progression, and evaluating the effectiveness of interventions over time. 

Additionally, DMFT data can inform preventive measures, such as fluoride therapy, dental sealants, and oral hygiene education, aimed at reducing caries prevalence and promoting optimal oral health outcomes.

Importance of DMFT in Public Health

Beyond individual patient care, DMFT plays a crucial role in public health initiatives aimed at improving oral health on a population level. 

Epidemiologists and public health officials utilise DMFT data to assess the prevalence of dental caries within communities, identify high-risk populations, and prioritise resource allocation for oral health programs.

By understanding regional variations in DMFT scores and associated risk factors, policymakers can implement targeted interventions, such as community water fluoridation, school-based dental sealant programs, and outreach initiatives to underserved populations. 

Different diets and access to affordable dental care all play a big role in people’s dental health and hygiene. 

DMFT index around the world

For more than 80 years, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED) together with World Health Organisation have been keeping stats on healthy primary teeth around the world. The purpose of this effort is to determine which countries are succeeding in promoting oral care so others can follow their lead. 

Denmark is the number one country for healthy primary teeth. Data indicates Denmark has the best oral health of all the countries in the entire world with DMFT score 0.4

Top 5 couries with lowest DMFT also include - Germany (0.5), Finland (0.7), UK (0.8) and Sweden (0.8)

In Australia dental caries remains a common oral health issue, affecting individuals of all ages. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), dental caries is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in Australia, particularly among children and adolescents.


  • Australian children aged 5–10 had an average of 1.5 decayed, missing and filled deciduous teeth
  • Australian children aged 6–14 had an average of 0.5 decayed, missing and filled permanent teeth
  • Australian adults aged 15 years and over had an average of 11.2 decayed, missing and filled teeth in 2017–18
  • The average number of teeth affected by dental caries per person in Australia increased with age, from an average of 4.1 in 15–34 year olds to 10.3 in 35–54 year olds, 19.4 in 55–74 year olds and 24.4 in people aged 75 and older in 2017–18. With the lowest index in ACT and highest in NT.

Factors That Determine Oral Health Ranking

While it’s evident that nations having more wealth and a lower degree of poverty would house healthier populations, what are the specific factors that affect an individual’s oral health. Understanding these elements will shed light on why the citizens of some countries have far better smiles than others.

  • Diet and Income Level: While these are two important factors in their own right, diet and income level are also closely related. The healthiest diet involves a variety of fresh, high-quality foods, and nations that are better able to access these kinds of foods are going to maintain a level of overall healthier bodies and oral hygiene.
  • High Sugar Diet: It’s long been proven that sugar is the catalyst for a host of dental problems including cavities and gum disease. Countries that enjoy a high sugar lifestyle are setting their oral health up for failure, as the most popular foods also play a major role in destroying their smiles. One example of this is the Philippines, where 97% of six-year-olds have cavities.
  • Access to the Oral Care: If you had a toothache, but the nearest dentist was hundreds of miles away and you had no car, what would you do. When citizens don’t have access to the treatments and services they need, it makes caring for their smiles a difficult, uphill battle. Plus, even if there are general dentists nearby, there may not be dental specialists who can provide the kind of guidance they need


The School Dental Program run Victoria government and prevention initiatives such as the Smiles 4 Miles, Healthy Families Healthy Smiles and Fluoride Varnish programs are helping to improve the oral health of children so that they will have a good foundation for lifelong oral health.

Collaborative efforts among healthcare providers, policymakers, researchers, and community stakeholders are essential for promoting oral health equity and improving outcomes for individuals and populations globally.


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