World Oral Health Day

How many teeth do you have, and how many will you keep for life are the questions being asked this World Oral Health Day.

March 20 is World Oral Health Day and the Australian Dental Association (ADA) is calling on all Australians to reflect on how well they are looking after their oral health and to consider whether they will retain their teeth for life.

An increasing number of Australians are managing to do so although today, most Australians have the capacity for at least 28 teeth and the ability keep them for life.

ADA President, Dr Carmelo Bonanno said, “Many people attend the dentist with their teeth in a poor state and think there is nothing they can do, but it’s never too late to take that first step. With a national ageing population, maintaining good oral health has never been so important with people needing to keep their teeth longer as they continue to live longer. Australians should not consider tooth loss to be a natural part of getting older.”

However, having more teeth brings increased risk of disease. “Adults are keeping more of their teeth but as a result, rates of gum disease are rising, and the risk increases with age,” Mr Bonanno said.

“Poor oral hygiene contributes to all stages of gum disease and, if left untreated, severe gum disease can result in tooth loss.”

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australian adults have an average of 4.5 missing teeth and around 61 per cent of people 75 or over have moderate or severe periodontitis.

World Oral Health Day is an initiative of the FDI World Dental Federation, with the 2019 theme Say Ahh…Act on Mouth Health, encouraging people to seek treatment and become proactive in caring for their oral health.

“Poor oral health in childhood is the greatest predictor for dental disease in adulthood, showing the importance of commencing good oral health habits at an early age. Young children copy the actions of their parents, so it’s important that parents set a good example,” Dr Bonanno said.

The ADA is reminding Australians that it is never too late to take that first step by going for a check-up with your dentist and encouraging all Australians to act and take charge of their own oral health.

The organisation recommends the best way for Australians to keep their teeth is to practise good oral hygiene routines including:

  • brush at least twice daily
  • floss regularly
  • maintain a diet low in sugar
  • decrease lifestyle risk factors such as tobacco use and alcohol consumption
  • regularly visit the dentist.

For pro tip video guides on flossing and brushing, visit www.ada.org.au/Your-Dental-Health/Oral-Health-Video-Resources.

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