More people in Australia are doing a better job of taking care of their oral health, though there are still some bad habits that need eradicating, reports the Australian Dental Association (ADA).
According to its recent consumer survey of 25,000 Australians, many adults are brushing their teeth twice a day.
“When we started tracking the nation’s oral health habits in 2011, we found 56% of people were brushing twice a day,” said Dr. Mikaela Chinotti, the ADA’s oral health promoter.
“While this then dipped to 47%, now it’s back to 53%. Hopefully, this means people are getting the message and realizing that if they look after their teeth, they should last a lifetime,” she said.
“Worryingly, of those respondents who only brushed once a day, 12% thought brushing more often wasn’t good for the teeth, while 37% said they didn’t need to,” Chinotti said.
“And 29% of those who didn’t brush twice a day said this was because it caused pain and discomfort, which points to a very real need for these people to see their dentist,” she said.
“These results show there’s still some way to go, and education forms a large part of that,” she continued.
“That’s why for World Oral Health Day 2021, the ADA in combination with SugarByHalf are launching their latest suite of school lessons that integrate oral health into mainstream learning,” Chinotti said.
The suite of school lessons, using the purpose-built storybook Guardians of the Gums, has been produced in collaboration with Cool Australia.
Teachers will use the lessons to integrate oral health into everyday math and science lessons, aiming to help kids make nutritional food and drink choices for early learning through to year two, the ADA said.
These lessons allow for oral health to be taught in schools Australia-wide, in alignment with the national curriculum “because it’s never too early to understand about caring for your mouth,” Chinotti said.
Other findings demonstrate that improvements need to be made, including:
- Only a quarter of adults floss at least once a day, with 31% reporting they “never” clean between their teeth.
- Two-thirds of adults aren’t aware that some medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease can have affect or be affected by oral health.
- 13% of parents reported their children drank soft drinks daily, while 39% consumed soft drinks two to five times per week. Just one can of a soft drink takes people above the recommended daily sugar intake and can contribute to tooth decay as well as weight gain.
- 10% of parents report taking their child to the dentist only when they have a problem, and 60% do so every 12 to 24 months.
“These results show there’s still a way to go in improving the nation’s oral health, particularly when it comes to oral health literacy, showing the importance of starting dental visits and oral health education from a young age,” said Chinotti.
“Brushing twice a day with a soft brush and a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste, cleaning between the teeth daily, eating a nutritious diet low in sugar, and seeing a dentist regularly will all go a long way to caring for the health of your mouth,” said Chinotti.
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