New research shows oral health getting worse

Half the population haven't figured out how to use these properly.
Half the population haven’t figured out how to use these properly.

Colgate has released new research as part of a national report into tooth decay, entitled The Colgate Cavity Report. Tooth decay is considered to be Australia’s most chronic disease for children and is five times more prevalent in children than asthma. Disturbingly, child oral health in Australia is actually getting worse.

While tooth decay has declined globally since the 1970s, recent data from the Australian Dental Association has indicated an increase of the disease. Since 1997, an increasing trend in tooth decay has become apparent in Australia and it is now Australia’s most common health problem, with 11 million newly decayed teeth developing each year.

The Colgate Cavity Report has revealed:

• Almost half (45 per cent) of Australians believe tooth decay is inevitable;

• 58 per cent of Australians believe getting cavities happens to everyone;

• Three in five (61 per cent) Australian adults feel self conscious about the appearance of their teeth;

• 75 per cent of Australian adults wish they had taken better care of their teeth;

• Only half (48 per cent) of Australians brush their teeth the recommended amount of twice a day;

• 49 per cent forget to brush their teeth before bed;

• Four in ten (39 per cent) Aussies admit they don’t know or aren’t sure how often it is recommended to brush their teeth in order to maintain good oral health.

Dr Susan Cartwright, Scientific Affairs Manager, Colgate Oral Care, believes tooth decay doesn’t have to be an endemic issue:

“If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to serious health issues, such as nerve damage, infection and loss of teeth. With such potentially painful effects, why is tooth decay still reported as Australia’s most common health problem? It doesn’t have to be this way – the Australian Dental Association believes no one should accept the condition as inevitable as it can be easily prevented with a healthy diet and proper dental care.”

The new research has revealed 72 per cent of Aussie parents worry about the appearance of their child’s teeth and, by the time a child is ten years of age, 94 per cent of parents are worried about them getting cavities. Despite this, almost half (49 per cent) of Aussie parents still believe getting cavities just happens to all children.

The Colgate Cavity Report has shown that almost half of Australian parents (47 per cent) have had their children experience symptoms of tooth decay in the past 12 months including toothache (23 per cent), sensitive teeth (16 per cent) and infection (10 per cent).

Preventing cavities is a struggle, with 59 per cent of parents finding it difficult to get their children to brush their teeth twice a day and 39 per cent of Aussie parents believing they need to set a better example for their kids when it comes to oral healthcare.

Dr Cartwright raises her concerns and urges parents to set a good oral health care routine for their children as early as possible:

“We know that brushing twice a day drops off in the late teens and early twenties as children start a new phase of their lives, leaving high school, starting university or work, moving out of home. But I cannot stress enough the importance of ensuring your child maintains a proper oral health care routine. Children are at risk of early childhood tooth decay as soon as their baby teeth begin to erupt. One of most important health lessons you can give your child is teaching them good daily oral care habits and supervising their oral care routine.”

While there are a number of factors behind tooth decay, a poor or incomplete daily oral care routine and high sugar diet are the top causes. The number one cause is the consumption of sugary foods and drinks on a regular basis. Sugary foods and drinks provide the sugars for decay causing plaque bacteria to thrive. The acids these bacteria produce cause tooth decay.

According to a Credit Suisse Research Institute report on sugar, Australians are amongst the world’s biggest sugar consumers, joining the US, Brazil and Argentina in consuming more than double the world’s average of 17 teaspoons per person, per day. Yet, according to The Colgate Cavity Report , only one in four (25 per cent) Australians believe the major cause of tooth decay is the consumption of sugary food and drinks.

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