The latest results are in for Australian oral health, and, unfortunately, it’s not looking good.
The Oral Health Tracker is a national report card that sets out oral health improvement targets for Australians, highlighting the intrinsic link between oral health and preventable chronic diseases such as diabetes, conditions and their risk factors.
Developed along with the Australian Health Policy Collaboration and other leading oral health experts, the Oral Health Tracker focuses on Australia’s current oral health status and redefines the way we view oral health in this country.
The report was published recently and the results painted a damning picture of the state of the nations’ teeth and gums.
Australian oral health in adults
The report found that tooth decay is the common most chronic disease in Australia, with a staggering 90% of adults suffering from some form of the condition. One-in-four people suffer from untreated tooth decay and 15% have severe tooth loss.
Oral diseases such as tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer contribute to illness, disability and death in Australia, with alcohol consumption and smoking habits contributing factors.
Just over half of people brush their teeth twice a day as recommended, with those aged 18 – 35 more likely to be in that group. The statistics show that brushing habits tend to drop off as people get older.
Australian oral health in children
Perhaps the most truly shocking figure to come out of the report is that over a third of 5-year-olds have decay in their baby teeth. The National Child Oral Health Study shows dental decay is the most prevalent oral disease in Australian children.
40% of children aged 12-14 years have decay in their permanent teeth, with those figures even higher in Indigenous, migrant and rural children.
The Oral Health Tracker also found about one-quarter of teens had not had a dental check-up in the previous year.
The usual suspects
Not surprisingly, the report blames smoking, drinking and sugar for the state of the country’s teeth.
While smoking rates have dropped, roughly one-in-eight people still light up regularly, but sugar seems to be the main culprit.
70% of 9-13 year olds consume too much sugar according to the report, with that figure even higher for 14-18 years. Statistics show that Australia is in the top 10 highest soft drink-consuming countries per capita, and with an average bottle containing 14 spoonful’s of sugar, it’s no wonder people are calling for change.
A proposed sugar tax has been on the cards for several years now, but faces staunch opposition from lobbyists.
Recently, the idea has taken on new life with the AMA – who are usually conservative when it comes to health policy – calling publicly for a sugar tax, but whether or not anything becomes legislation is yet to be seen.
Stay on top of your oral health
What these statistics on Australian oral health show is that looking after your teeth is more important than ever.
Quitting smoking, excess drinking and cutting down on sugar is vital. Brushing at least twice a day is essential, especially for children, as bad oral health in childhood tends to lead to even worse situations in adulthood.
Regular check ups with your dentist play an important role in oral health, and here at SDAI, we can keep you on the right path.
From the moment you walk through the door of our practice in Martin Place, you’re made to feel relaxed and comfortable. We’ll talk you through everything that’s going on, even if it’s just a simple check-up.
By brushing regularly, reducing your sugar intake, and visiting us for a check-up every six months, you can keep on top of your oral health, reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Contact us today if you have any questions about our dental practice, or would like to know how to make an appointment.