Inaugural report into division between oral and general health


The Oral Health Advisory Panel has released its inaugural report into the divide between oral and general health in Australia, hoping to address the disconnect.

The Oral Health Advisory Panel has this week released its inaugural report, Oral Health and General Health in Australia – the Great Divide, addressing the disconnect between oral and general health and hoping to raise awareness about the important of good oral health habits from an early age.

“The statistics and insights contained in the report emphasise the broader context of the impact that poor oral health has on general wellbeing,” said Dr Susan Cartwright, OHAP member and Colgate Oral Care’s scientific manager. “Oral health screening, referral and preventive advice is very often not included in general health checks, discussions and patient education and it’s time to address that disconnect.”

The report’s findings are broken down into three key areas of oral health in the context of general health.

Tooth decay
Resulting from an imbalance among two risk factors, dental plaque and sugar, and two protective factors, saliva and fluoride, the report indicates that a reduction in sugar exposure and brushing with fluoride toothpaste will help to address the issue, noting that children are at greatest risk of early tooth decay, with less than 12 per cent of Australian children (at two years of age) having seen a dental practitioner. It suggests that other primary care providers, such as general medical health practitioners, are best placed to offer anticipatory advice. At the other end of the age spectrum, more than one in five Australian adults aged over 65 have no teeth, with most tooth loss attributed to dental caries and gum disease. It is so important that people of any age make sure that they visit a dentist in their area as often as is required to make sure that their gums are kept healthy and free of disease.

Gum disease
The report notes that the ramifications of periodontal disease are far greater than simple plaque accumulation, including affects on and links to the patient’s immune system, speech, nutrition, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, adverse pregnancy outcomes, rheumatoid arthritis, lung disease and kidney disease.

With the growth of teeth bleaching, straightening, invisible braces, dental veneers and implants, the report notes that we are becoming increasingly accustomed to seeing and wanting perfect teeth, and yet it parallels an increasing prevalence and severity of tooth decay in Australians, creating a divide between the reality of our teeth and how we want them to be. Individuals with poor oral health often dissatisfied with and self-conscious about their teeth and smile, affecting their self-esteem

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