In 2014, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare commissioned a study called, “Oral Health and Dental Care in Australia: Key Facts and Figures Trends 2014.” The study should be required reading for every dentist, not only in Perth but throughout Australia. The study has a lot of information, but we would like to focus on its core: dental care trends and what they portend for the future.
Dental Health: Then and Now
These are national statistics, but statistics were not available for NSW from 2001-2006 and in Victoria from the year 2005. From 1977-1996, there was a gradual drop in baby teeth that suffered from tooth decay. However, from 1997-2010, there has been a gradual rise. The overall effect from 1977-2010 is a slight drop.
In 2010, 48% of children aged 5 had missing, filled or decayed baby teeth, rising to 63% at age 9. Those aged 5 had an average of 2.32 missing, filled or decayed baby teeth, while those who were aged 8 had an average of 2.63.
When children reached age 12, at which all of their teeth were permanent, nearly half already had tooth decay. By age 15, children had an average of 2.63 decayed permanent teeth.
For the years of 1987-88, adults reported an average of 15 missing, filled or decayed teeth. For the years 2004-2006, that average dropped to around 13. The drop was attributed to less missing teeth and less decayed teeth, with the number of fillings being almost identical from 1987-2006.
From 1994 to 2010, more people reported that oral health was having an impact upon their lives. These impacts included avoiding certain foods, toothaches and being uncomfortable with their appearance. In 1994, 31.4% reported impact. By 2008, that number had risen to 39.9%. Of the subcategories, those who were uncomfortable with their appearance rose the most, 4.5%. There was a 4% rise in those reporting toothaches, while the numbers for avoiding certain foods remained constant.
In 2004-2006, untreated tooth decay was reported in 28.2% of men aged 25-44 and 22.7% of women in that age group. Men averaged 0.70 decayed teeth and women averaged 0.51. Women averaged 8.14 filled teeth while men averaged 7.24. For the years 2004-2006, people in the inner regional areas had an average of 14.75 missing, filled or decayed teeth. 23.5% in major cities had untreated decay while the number rose to 37.6% in remote or very remote areas.
The incidence of gum disease rose sharply commensurate with age. Only 2.7% of people in the 15-24 age demographic had gum disease, while those aged 65 or over had a rate of 53.4%. 26.8% of men suffered from gum disease, compared to only 19.0% of women. Remote areas showed a higher rate of gum disease than those in major cities, 36.3% to 22.1%.
From 1994-2002, the number of missing teeth in Australia decreased from 6.2 per person to 5.4 per person. New Zealanders 18 and over were nearly twice as likely to have lost all of their teeth: 9.4% to 5.5%. The 15-24 age group averaged 2.2 missing teeth, while those 65 and over averaged 11.9 missing teeth. Women averaged more missing teeth than men, 5.7 to 4.8. 6.4% of women had lost all of their teeth, compared to 4.1% of men.
What These Numbers Mean to You
The main takeaway here is that you have to start habits that promote good dental health early. It is also apparent that, despite the decline in dietary habits, dental care has progressed. Some numbers have gotten worse, but they are the result of a larger number of ageing Australians. Overall, numbers indicate that the future is looking great for dental care and dental health in Australia.
It is important to see your dentist regularly and practise good oral hygiene at home at any age. To learn more, call 1300 Great Smile in Perth today:(08) 9404 9500