Poorly funded and promoted dental schemes, long waiting lists for public dentistry, price rises in private health insurance premiums and the destructive forces of the pandemic … a perfect storm for a dramatic decline in Australia’s oral health.
Alarming new Australian Dental Association (ADA) data from the peak dental body’s annual Consumer Survey released for Dental Health Week next week (1-7 August), has unmasked some surprising findings around mouth maintenance over the last 12 months.
Data relating to adults found, among other things, that 77 per cent of us rarely or never floss, a fundamental part of a good oral health routine; and only 13 per cent have visited the dentist in the past 12 months.
Data relating to children found, among other things, that 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).
There are also some interesting teeth whitening statistics. Unfortunately, only one in three 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 are opting for in-clinic whitening. The other two thirds are using other means such as buying teeth whitening kits online, getting over-the-counter products like strips or gel from a pharmacy or supermarket, and using whitening services provided by someone other than a dental professional.
“The level of knowledge about oral health and its knock-on effects is still not what it should be,” ADA oral health promoter Dr Mikaela Chinotti said.
“The pandemic has been tough for many people and for some this has led them to take their eye off the oral health ball—we’re seeing the result in dental clinics across the land.”
More survey results can be read here.