Going to the dentist often brings about a sense of disdain. So much so that a phobia exits called ‘dental fear’ (or odontophobia, dentophobia, dental phobia, and dental anxiety) which is, shockingly, the fear of dentistry and receiving dental care.
Apparently dentists do have a reason to chide us about flossing while poking and prodding our teeth. The Australian Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC) has released new data indicating that only half of all Australians brush their teeth twice a day.
No wonder 90 per cent of Aussie adults have some form of tooth decay. Even worse still, more than one-third of five-year-olds had decay in their baby teeth. As a result, an overabundance of kids are ending up in hospital with preventable dental problems.
So what can we, as a nation, do about it?
Apart from underlying socioeconomic factors that impact who in our society can easily access, and pay for, a dentist, there are a few lifestyle factors to address.
Smoking, as well as excess alcohol and sugar consumption, are contributing to our poor dental health.
On the plus side, our smoking rates are declining. However the number of Australians engaging in ‘risky’ drinking is still concerning. According to the AHPC report, this number is hovering at around 17.1 per cent.
Regarding sugar consumption, the report found that almost three-quarters of children eat too much sugar. We’ve previously discussed the possibility of introducing a sugar tax. Often the focus is on weight gain and other co-morbidities of obesity such as diabetes, but a reduction of sugar consumption as a result of the tax could benefit our dental health too.
What about me as an individual?
Make sure you’re keeping up your brushing habits. One effective method of maintaining your dental hygiene and avoiding late night snacking is to brush immediately following dinner. We feel like the taste of toothpaste should act as a deterrent to further snacking, but maybe that’s just us.
Ensure you’re brushing correctly, and if you’re not sure check out Dental Health Services Victoria’s handy guide.
Importantly, happy World Oral Health Day!