The elderly in China have little to smile about when it comes to dental health as survey by the Ministry of Health shows people over the age of 65 on average lose 11 teeth, and seven percent of them are toothless.
"About 98.4 percent of Chinese elderly between 65 and 74 suffer from tooth decay, and nearly 92 percent of them did not receive treatment," according to China's third national survey on oral health, which was released on Wednesday.
"As the Chinese population ages, dental health must not be neglected," said Qi Xiaoqiu, director of the ministry's disease control bureau.
The survey, based on the World Heath Organization standards, shows nearly 66 percent of China's five-year-olds have decayed teeth, down 11 percent from a decade ago.
The childhood dental disease rate in European countries is 30 percent say experts, adding that low awareness, inadequate education and bad habits, such as eating candy before bed, contribute to the rising tooth decay rate among Chinese children.
The survey indicated the dental health of urban residents is better than people in the countryside and that women have better teeth than men.
"Chinese people's dental health has not greatly improved with the country's rapid economic development," Qi said, adding that more effective oral health projects should be introduced in rural area.
Previous reports show that China needs 70,000 dentists and that 97.6 percent of Chinese suffer dental problems such as tooth decay or gum disease.