The University of Adelaide is continuing to scrutinize Australia’s oral health in the first national study of its kind in more than a decade. In total, 15,000 Australians will be asked to take part in surveys and free dental examinations as part of the National Study of Adult Oral Health 2017-2018.
The $5.8 million study will assess the level of oral diseases among adults and the effectiveness, sustainability, and equity of dental services across the country. It will be conducted by the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health (ARCPOH) at the Adelaide Dental School in partnership with federal, state, and territory departments of health and dental services.
“It’s critical that we understand the changes in dental health among adult Australians and the quality, prevalence, and accessibility of services they receive,” said chief investigator Marco Peres, BDS, PhD, MPH, director of ARCPOH and professor of population oral health at the university.
“Oral health is vitally important to our general health, with well-established links to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and many other conditions, as well as to people’s quality of life,” said Peres.
“Unlike general medical care, the high cost of dental care is largely borne by the individual. And with some oral diseases being very expensive to treat, this places a large section of our community at a further disadvantage, with treatment being almost unattainable for some people,” Peres said.
“Our study will inform government policy-makers and dental service providers about the delivery of fair and effective dental services for all Australians over the next decade and more. Importantly, the results of our study will directly impact on the dental care people receive in the community, which in turn will impact on their quality of life,” Peres said.
Participants in the study, which will be completed by mid-2019, will be selected at random. Those chosen will be interviewed over the phone or via a web-based survey and will be invited to have a free dental examination. Researchers also will track the 5,500 participants from the previous national study 10 years ago, also conducted by ARCPOH.
Researchers have already completed their work in South Australia and Tasmania and have started in Victoria and New South Wales, with more than 10,000 interviewed so far. Peres expects to see that number spike when participants from the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, and Western Australia take part over the coming weeks and months.