Australia’s dental health report card is in, and the results indicate we could be doing much better when it comes to caring for our teeth.
The Government’s latest Oral Health and Dental Care study indicates Australians aged 15 and over have on average 12.8 missing and decayed teeth, and the impacts extend far beyond fillings to affect their general health and wellbeing.
Here’s an insight into the latest findings and how orthodontics can help avoid dental issues and set you up for a lifetime of better dental health.
Each year the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shines a spotlight on the nation’s dental health with their annual Oral Health and Dental Care Report, and this year’s findings indicate as a nation there’s vast room for improvement when it comes to caring for our teeth.
The 2019 results concluded Australians aged 15 and over have on average 12.8 decayed, missing or filled teeth, with dental health deteriorating as people age.
The report found:
- Five to 10-year-olds have on average 1.5 decayed, missing or filled teeth
- Six to 14-year-olds have on average 0.5 decayed, missing or filled teeth
- 15 to 34-year-olds have on average 4.5 decayed, missing or filled teeth
- 35 to 54-yearolds have on average 14.4 decayed, missing or filled teeth
- 55 to 74-year-olds have on average 22.2 decayed, missing or filled teeth
- People aged 75 and over have on average 24.3 decayed, missing or filled teeth.
In 2014–15, about one in two Australians had seen a dentist or dental professional in the last 12 months, and in 2016–17, about 70,200 hospitalisations for dental conditions could have been prevented with earlier treatment.
“Good oral health is fundamental to overall health and wellbeing,” the report stated.
“Without it, a person’s general quality of life and the ability to eat, speak and socialise is compromised, resulting in pain, discomfort and embarrassment.
“Oral health refers to the condition of a person’s teeth and gums, as well as the health of the muscles and bones in their mouth.
“Poor oral health—mainly tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss—affects many Australian children and adults, and contributed 4.4 per cent of all the burden that non-fatal burden diseases placed on the community in 2011. Oral health generally deteriorates over a person’s lifetime.”
Maintaining good oral health
Preventing decay and tooth loss is about maintaining good oral health. This involves a dental hygiene routine of brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes twice daily and flossing each day.
Meanwhile, all Australians should be visiting a dentist twice a year, and in some cases more often.
However, the report noted that in 2014-15:
- Around one-quarter of all Australians (26 per cent) had last consulted a dentist or dental professional more than two years ago.
- Around one in five (21 per cent) children aged two–14 years had never consulted a dentist or dental professional; and
- Nearly half (46 per cent) of adults aged 85 years and over last consulted a dentist or dental professional more than two years ago.
Ultimately, this lack of attention to our teeth is leading to high incidence of cavities and preventable dental issues. And, as the mouth is the gateway to general health, often the implications extend far beyond fillings to overall wellbeing and health.
The importance of dental health
A host of diseases are thought to stem from oral health problems, with gum disease and dental cavities often the precursor to health issues like cardiovascular disease and even some types of cancer.
And that’s not even touching the surface of the social and psychological issues associated with dental health.
The Oral Health and Dental Care Report found:
- Around one in four adults (27 per cent) with natural teeth who were aged 15 years and over had felt uncomfortable about their dental appearance in the previous 12 months.
- Around one in five adults (21 per cent) with natural teeth who were aged 15 years and over had avoided eating certain foods in the previous 12 months due to problems with their teeth.
- Around one in six adults (16 per cent) with natural teeth aged 15 years and over had experienced toothache in the previous 12 months.
Setting good foundations with orthodontics
At Norwest Orthodontics, we often stress the fact that straight aligned teeth are not just about aesthetics. They help set you people up for a lifetime of better dental health.
Straight teeth and an aligned bite allow for easier maintenance and cleaning, while also preventing the teeth from wearing unnecessarily against each other.
Easy maintenance and cleaning – Teeth that are straight and align in the right position offer you a better opportunity to maintain a beautiful smile.
When teeth are in their rightful position they can be more readily accessed for daily cleaning like brushing and flossing, and that’s the key for warding off bacteria, plaque and their effects, which lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
Less wear and tear – Teeth have an important role to perform throughout their lifetime. They contribute to a host of essential functions like food digestion, speech and even facial formation.
To do this they need to meet at the right angle, at the right time under the right circumstances, and orthodontics is all about ensuring that’s the case.
Even naturally straight teeth may actually be out of alignment. And if that’s happening there’s the potential for problems down the track. When teeth meet incorrectly, they may grind and wear. This in turn leads to chipping, cracking and increased cavities. It can also contribute to other problems like speech defects, breathing issues and sleep interruption or sleep apnoea.
The final score
Australians could and should be doing much better when it comes to their dental health, and orthodontic treatments such as braces play an important role in setting the right foundations.
With straight teeth and improved attention to dental hygiene, a generation of the future stands to enjoy the wider benefits that come with better oral health.
About Norwest Orthodontics
Norwest Orthodontics specialises in helping you achieve a great smile, no matter your age. We feature a range of orthodontic treatments that span from early intervention right through to remedial adult work.
We also have a suite of treatments available that include discreet, removeable Invisalign braces, and welcome the opportunity to work with you to achieve the smile you’ve always dreamed of.