Australia's dental health practices need improving

Lax oral health is coming back to bite us as too few Aussies keep up general dental care. Picture: Shutterstock.
Lax oral health is coming back to bite us as too few Aussies keep up general dental care. Picture: Shutterstock.

Aussies could benefit from brushing up on oral hygiene practices to keep our teeth and mouth healthy, starting with brushing twice a day.

Recently released statistics for the Oral Health Tracker, a national report card on preventable oral diseases and their risk factors, found one-fifth of Australians do not brush at least twice a day.

This leads to preventable diseases, which are becoming increasingly common. Almost a third of adults have untreated tooth decay, and this number is growing.

More lifestyle:

One in ten of us have severe tooth loss with less than 21 teeth, the basic number needed for the mouth to function properly.

When it comes to our diet, Australians are not doing much better. Almost half of adults consume too much added sugar, and over 70 per cent of children aged between nine and 18 have too much of the sweet stuff - and many of us are not seeing the dentist the recommended number of times a year.

In 2018 figures, only 56 per cent of adults had been to the dentist in the past 12 months and this figure dropped to 49 per cent in the 2020 results, suggesting we are regressing in this respect.

For children, many had their first visit to a dentist put off until after their fifth birthday, despite the first dental visit recommended at age one or when teeth first appear.

Dental Health Week: Dr Mikaela Chinotti says there's more to do to keep our smiles in shape. Image: Supplied

Dental Health Week: Dr Mikaela Chinotti says there's more to do to keep our smiles in shape. Image: Supplied

"All these statistics are a shocking indictment of our oral health habits," Dr Mikaela Chinotti, the ADA's oral health promoter, said.

"They show that too few Australians brush twice a day and floss daily, have a diet low in sugars, or visit a dentist regularly for check-ups to spot emerging dental issues," she said.

Too few Australians brush twice a day and floss daily, have a diet low in sugars, or visit a dentist regularly for check-ups to spot emerging dental issues.

Dr Mikaela Chinotti

"The ADA encourages Australians to build these four simple steps into their regular routines to ensure they set themselves on the path to keep their teeth for life - and food plays a significant part in this routine."

Lax oral health is then coming back to bite us.

Almost 10 in every 1000 children aged five to nine experienced a potentially preventable hospitalisation due to a dental condition, and 29 per cent of adults have periodontal pockets, a sign of periodontal disease which affects the structures that support the teeth.

This story It's time to brush up on our dental health first appeared on The Canberra Times.