Don’t delay on dental health

All adults can maintain good dental health throughout adulthood by adopting good oral hygiene practices and by having a healthy diet.

An annual customer survey of 25,000 Aussies conducted by the Australian Dental Association (ADA) and released for Dental Health Week (1-7 August), found one in three people postponed dental treatment in the past 12 months due to Covid concerns and more than one-fifth felt adversely affected by it.

Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of those who postponed were aged 18-24 years with more than 40 per cent aged 65-74 years and women numbered more than men.

Survey respondents cited their main reason for delaying was that their dental problem was not urgent (26 per cent), 17 per cent were concerned about catching Covid at the dental clinic or travelling to it, 16 per cent reported not being in a financial position for dental care and 14 per cent did not attend due to lockdowns.

Of those who delayed their dental consultations, 21 per cent felt this adversely affected them, while 17 per cent were unsure whether it did. Residents of Victoria, NSW and the ACT who experienced greater periods of lockdown, more commonly reported that their oral health was adversely affected.

“These statistics tell us a lot about where oral health is sitting for people during the Covid pandemic,” said Dr Mikaela Chinotti, the ADA’s Oral Health Promoter and Sydney dentist.

“With people losing their jobs or working reduced hours, dental care took on a lesser priority or was inaccessible during lockdowns for some families.

“That said though, with two-thirds of people still getting treatments or attending for check-ups, particularly in states less impacted by lockdowns, this is good news for the nation’s oral health because oral conditions left untreated can result in serious consequences including on the rest of the body.”

Fortunately many Aussies don’t plan to delay for too long: 54 per cent planned to go in the next one-three months, 22 per cent were going to book within three-12 months and others were either waiting for the pandemic to ease, or to reach full vaccination status or were still unsure.

“Anecdotally we’ve heard from many ADA dentist members that with the stress of the pandemic there’s been an increase in cracked teeth, tooth sensitivity and/or pain associated with clenching or grinding of the teeth and an increase in discomfort from the jaw joint,” said Dr Chinotti.

For those Aussies who delayed dental care due to the Covid pandemic, Dental Health Week is a great reminder that it’s time to show you teeth some love by taking them on a date to the dentist.

When not at the dentist, Aussies can also find up-to-date and evidence-based oral health advice online in the form of short educational videos, articles and a multi-episode podcast on the ADA’s consumer-focused website at teeth.org.au

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