Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Nation's Decaying Habit

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Nation's Decaying Habit

Article excerpt

Byline: Vanessa Brown and AAP

IT'S the staple of dental hygiene. Brush twice a day - for at least two minutes - morning and night.

But Australia has failed its first national oral health check-up, with data showing more than 90 per cent of adults have experienced decay in their permanent teeth, with only half of adults brushing their teeth twice a day as recommended.

According to Australia's Oral Health Tracker released on Tuesday, risky alcohol consumption and smoking were contributing to poor oral health among many adults across the country.

The tracker also confirmed alarming levels of tooth decay among children, with three out of four consuming too much sugar - a major cause of cavities.

"The evidence shows that one-third of Australia's five to six-year-olds have had decay in their baby teeth," Australian Dental Association president Dr Hugo Sachs said.

"This is an unacceptably high rate and puts these children at risk of poor oral health in their development and adult years."

Australia's Oral Health Tracker was developed by dental academics/researchers, clinicians, policy and public health experts and was released by the ADA to coincide with World Oral Health Day.

It sets targets for improving the oral health of children, young people and adults by the year 2025, aligned with the World Health Organisation's targets for global prevention and reduction in chronic diseases.

Public health expert Professor Rosemary Calder, director of the Australian Health Policy Collaboration at Victoria University, said preventable tooth decay was not only painful but very costly.

The figures show in 2015-16 there were 67,266 potentially preventable hospitalisations for oral health problems and almost one-third of those were children under the age of nine.

"Preventable hospital admissions are of concern to all governments," Prof Calder said. "One in 10 preventable admissions are due to dental conditions, mostly untreated tooth decay."

Earlier this month, the Royal Children's Hospital National Poll found by early primary school one in four children needed a tooth filling and one in 10 required a tooth pulled out because of decay. …

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