Did you brush your teeth twice yesterday? Because half of Australians didn’t.
An alarming new study has found many Australians don’t know how to brush their teeth properly and fail to meet basic oral hygiene standards.
The Australian Dental Association (ADA) and Australian Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC) at Victoria University released their annual report card on Tuesday, and revealed just 51 per cent of Aussie adults brush their teeth twice a day.
The report also found that 90 per cent of Australian adults have experienced tooth decay in their permanent teeth and as many as 75 per cent of children and young adults are consuming unhealthy levels of sugar. Shockingly, just 55.5 per cent of people have had a dental check-up in the last year.
The research also shows there is a clear link between oral hygiene and overall health. The study’s Oral Health Tracker, which was developed by experts to monitor and analyse Aussies’ dental habits, found tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in Australia.
While the findings show Australians have a long way to go before they pass the snog test, Professor Rosemary Calder, Director of AHPC, says Aussies’ less-than-desirable oral habits are also costing the health system millions, with one in 10 preventable admissions due to dental conditions, mostly untreated tooth decay.
“Australia’s Oral Health Tracker highlights the remarkable cost of poor oral health to individuals and to the health budget,” she said. “In 2015-16, there were 67,266 potentially preventable hospitalisations for oral health problems and almost one-third of these were children under the age of nine years. Worryingly, there’s a growing number of children in this age group who are being admitted to hospital for dental health reasons.
To combat the issue, the Oral Health Tracker aims not only to improve the Australians’ dental health, but to reduce the number of people needing hospital attention for dental conditions by 10 per cent.
The ADA has also called on the government to step up its game in the oral department.
The organisation’s federal president Dr Hugo Sachs said: “This is why it is critical for governments to address the underlying risk factors for chronic disease as part of their prevention agenda.”
Both the ADA and AHPC have established targets in line with the World Health Organisation’s oral health standards. By 2025, it’s hoped that 94 per cent of the population will have access to fluoridated water — a five per cent increase on current figures. They are also working to reduce the number of adults indulging in too much sugar from the current 47.8 per cent to 33.5 per cent and increase the number of people brushing their teeth twice a day by 4 per cent.