New research, commissioned by the Oral Health Advisory Panel (OHAP), has revealed some worrying insights into the oral health awareness of Australians.
Notably, 92 per cent of Australian adults are unaware of what the early stages of tooth decay look like, while many parents are ignorant of the guidelines when it comes to their children’s oral health—76 per cent don’t know when they should take their baby to see a dentist, and 77 per cent mistakenly allow their young children to brush their own teeth much too early.
These are just some of the alarming results revealed in the OHAP Oral Health Care Study 2019, an annual survey that examined the oral health of Australians.
Another key finding was that around one third of Australian adults place the visual appearance of their teeth and having fresh breath above having healthy gums and being cavity-free.
“It is very disappointing to discover that Australians are not getting the message about oral health,” OHAP founding member and public health advocate Christine Morris said.
“People are valuing appearance over the health of their teeth and are unaware of the guidelines when it comes to the oral health of their children.
“Children under the age of eight years do not have the manual dexterity required to brush their teeth effectively,” Morris added.
“It is vitally important that parents assist their children until they are at least eight years old, to help prevent decay and a lifetime of potential future health problems.”
The survey also revealed that parents have no idea about the recommendations that a baby should visit the dentist as soon as their first tooth arrives, or by the age of one year if teeth are yet to erupt.
Morris said further community education is crucial, with oral health professionals playing a key role.