Our personal hygiene delivers a kick in the teeth

By PHOEBE LAY,
health editor

Today is the perfect day to celebrate your pearly whites, but it seems Australians may not be worthy of the celebration.

On World Oral Health Day today, the Australian Dental Association, in collaboration with the Australian Health Policy Collaboration, has released a report on Australia’s oral health, and the results are embarrassing.

We are told to brush our teeth twice a day, but the results from Australia’s Oral Health Tracker report found only 51 per cent of Australian adults are doing so.

The report revealed that 90 per cent of Australians have suffered tooth decay, making it the most common chronic disease in Australia.

Untreated tooth decay was also responsible for triggering up to 67,266 preventable hospitalisations between 2015 and 2016, one-third of which were children under the age of nine.

More than half of all Australians don’t brush their teeth often enough.

“This is an unacceptably high rate and puts these children at risk of poor oral health in their development and adult years,” said ADA federal president Dr Hugo Sachs.

The report shows that poor oral health is linked to diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

Melbourne dentist  Dr Anthony Chiu said tooth decay occurred when bacteria ate away at the inside of the tooth, which could cause the tooth to shatter when chewing.

He stressed the important of flossing. Flossing served the same purpose as brushing, but targeted areas that a brush could not reach, Dr Chiu said.

Australia’s Oral Health Tracker hopes to have a 10 per cent reduction in the number of dental-related hospitalisations with children by 2025.