This week is Dental Health Week, an annual campaign that aims to raise much needed awareness of the importance of oral health.
Kicking off Monday, August 6, the theme is ‘Watch Your Mouth’, which highlights the importance of looking after your whole mouth.
Run by the Australian Dental Association the campaign hopes to encourage all Australians to visit their local dentist during the month of August.
Some key statistics from a Australian Dental Health Study found 65 per cent of Australians haven’t visited the dentist in the last two years. Dr Antonia Lalousis from Dubbo Family Dentist believes the City follows the national trend.
“In Dubbo, there is a big segment of the population not taking preventative measures and not getting in to see the dentist, brushing and doing all the basic things to keep their teeth healthy,” she said.
“Lots of people are missing out on the opportunity to maintain good oral health through regular check-ups.”
Dr Lalousis said giving dentists the chance to catch problems early, with regular six-monthly check-ups, was one of the best ways to avoid serious oral health issues.
According to the study 9.9 per cent of adults are decay-free and 34.3 per cent of children aged five to six years have experienced decay in their primary teeth.
Approximately 27.1 per cent of children aged five to 10 years have untreated tooth decay in their primary teeth.
Dr Lalousis said decay was not just caused by poor brushing or diet, but by a combination of factors.
“Brush with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, reduce the sugar in your diet and see your dentist regularly, and you’ll reduce the risk of tooth decay,” she said.
Alarmingly the study found just 68.5 per cent of children aged five to 14 years brushed their teeth twice a day and 70.3 per cent of children aged nine to 13 years are consuming too much sugar.
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Dr Lalousis encouraged parents to supervise brushing for children eight years old and under, and minimise the amount of sugar consumed in food and drinks.
“Supervision of children is critical because they just haven’t developed the dexterity or real understanding of how surfaces of teeth work,” she said.
“Brushing twice a day something easy and inexpensive we can do to look after our teeth.”
If parents modelled good brushing behaviour for their own teeth, children will try and replicate that, Dr Lalousis said.
The study revealed just over half (52 per cent) of the population brush their teeth twice per day
“Around half of adults brush just once a day, instead of after breakfast and before bed,” Dr Lalousis said.
“If you’ve left a day’s worth of food on your teeth and you don’t brush (at night) and you make it a habit, then you’re going to have trouble.”
Dr Lalousis advised that dentists are committed to helping patients keep their teeth for life.
Visiting the dentist regularly for preventive care of early identification of problems, is an investment in continuing good health.
She encouraged people to look into their health fund, if they have one, and find out how much they’re covered for.
To find out more information please visit www.ada.org.au