How’s Your Oral Health?

Australians are failing to floss and visit the dentist, and only brushing our teeth half as much as we should.

Alarming new Australian Dental Association (ADA) data from the peak dental body’s annual Consumer Survey released for Dental Health Week (August 1 to 7) has unmasked some surprising findings around mouth mainitenance over the last 12 months.

Data collated found that:

  • 77 per cent of adults rarely or never floss;
  • Only 13 per cent have visited the dentist in the past 12 months;
  • 26 per cent of us haven’t been to a dentist in over 5 years, and - 40 per cent haven’t done so in the previous 2 to 5 years;
  • 19 per cent only brush once (or less) per day, and of this group - 30 per cent said it was because it caused pain while 14 per cent thought it was bad for the teeth; and
  • 66 per cent of respondents were unaware that poor oral health could impact medical conditions.

Data relating to children found:

  • 58 per cent of parents didn’t know if they were eligible for free dental care for their kids through the Government’s Child Dental Benefits Schedule (which provides $1026 in dental care every two years);
  • 41 per cent of parents said a child’s first dental visit should be at 2 years old, with only 25 per cent aware that it should be at 1 year old or sooner if their first tooth erupts prior to their first birthday;

When it comes to teeth whitening:

  • 22 per cent of us have whitened our teeth, an 8 per cent increase since 2017;
  • More than twice as many women as men have teeth whitened, and it’s most popular in the 24 to 34 year old age group; and
  • Only 1 in 3 adults whitening their teeth are doing so under the supervision of a dental professional - 19 per cent are using take-home kits and 14 per cent opting for in-clinic whitening, and the other two-thirds are using other means - 39 per cent are buying teeth whitening kits online, 16 per cent getting over-the-counter products like strips or gel from a pharmacy or supermarket, and 9 per cent are using whitening services provided by someone other than a dental professional.

ADA’s Oral Health Promoter and Sydney dentist, Dr Mikaela Chinotti said the level of knowledge about oral health and its knock-on effects was still not what it should be.

“The pandemic has been tough for many people and for some this has led them to take their eye off the oral health ball,” Dr Chinotti said.

“We’re seeing the result in dental clinics across the land.

“Following the ADA’s four key steps for good oral health will go a long way in helping Australians to keep their teeth for life: brush twice a day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, clean between teeth daily, visit your dentist regularly and have a diet low in sugar.

“A healthy mouth is more than just clean and white teeth.

“Keeping your teeth healthy allows you to eat, speak and smile comfortably.

“To help Australians access up-to-date and evidence-based information on oral health, the ADA has created, a one-stop shop for information and resources to help maintain their oral health and keep their smile for life.”

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