OHAP Media Alert – Australians with serious health conditions unaware of links to poor oral health

Woman in bathroom about to brush her teeth

Media Release
2 August, 2017

New research has revealed that an alarming 82% of people with asthma are ignorant of the potential impact of their condition on their oral health, and two-thirds (64%) of sleep apnoea sufferers are similarly unaware that their condition is directly associated with poor oral health. Worryingly, almost half (48%) of all Australians do not know that asthma, diabetes and sleep apnoea can have a negative impact on the oral health of sufferers.

 

Asthma, diabetes and sleep apnoea are all serious, and increasingly common, health conditions that can affect people of all ages. Nearly one third (29%) of Australians surveyed suffered from one or more of these conditions, and yet, understanding about the implications for oral health remains low. The research also highlighted that almost two-thirds (61%) of Australians are unaware that some prescription and over-the-counter medications may have a detrimental effect on oral health.

The research, commissioned by the Oral Health Advisory Panel (OHAP) to better understand current perceptions about the links between oral health and general health, also identified that the 25-34 year old age group has the most seriously compromised health, with 46% of this age group experiencing either asthma, diabetes and/or sleep apnoea.

Julie Barker, OHAP member and immediate Past President of the Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists’ Association, comments, “We were alarmed, but not really surprised, by the lack of understanding that people with serious health conditions have about the link between their condition and their oral health. We’ve long been aware that there is a clear disconnect between oral health and general health, and these survey results demonstrate that, unfortunately, the disconnect remains.”

Poor oral health, particularly gum disease, has been associated not only with asthma, diabetes and sleep apnoea, but also with cardiovascular disease, adverse pregnancy outcomes, rheumatoid arthritis, lung disease and kidney disease.

Ms Barker continues, “Poor oral health can have a significant impact on general health, and the reverse is also true. However, despite the known links, people with serious health conditions are often not informed of their increased risk of oral health issues by their health care professionals, usually because they are still seen to be separate issues.”

People living with diabetes were the exception to the rule in the survey, with 70% understanding that their condition can have a negative impact on their oral health.

Survey Key Findings:

  • Almost half (48%) of Australians are unaware that asthma, diabetes or sleep apnoea can have a negative impact on oral health.
  • Well over half of Australians (61%) are unaware that prescription medications or OTC medications can have a negative effect on your oral / dental health.
  • 51% of Australians with persistent dry mouth or poor oral health are unaware that prescription medications or OTC medications can have a negative impact on their oral / dental health.
  • Alarmingly, 82% of people with asthma are unaware that asthma can have a negative impact on their oral health.
  • 64% of people with sleep apnoea are unaware that the condition can have a negative impact on their oral health.
  • Conversely, 70% of people with diabetes are aware that the condition can have a negative impact on their oral health.
  • Nearly a third of Australians surveyed (29% or 5.3 million Australians) say that they suffer from either: asthma, diabetes, or sleep apnoea.
  • 15% (2.8 million) suffer from asthma (24% of 18-24 year olds)
  • 9% (1.6 million) suffer from diabetes (13% of 50-64 year olds)
  • 9% (1.6 million) suffer from sleep apnoea (12% of 50-64 year olds)
  • 11% (2 million) admit to having poor oral health (15% among 25-34 year olds)
  • 8% (1.5 million) suffer from a persistent dry mouth
  • The unhealthiest group in this respect is 25-34 years with nearly half (46%) suffering from one of the above.
  • The healthiest group in this respect is 35-49 years with just over a third (33%) suffering from one of the above.

Oral Health Month is an annual initiative designed to raise awareness of issues related to oral health among consumers and health care professionals alike.

 

Follow OHAP on Twitter @OHAPanel

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About the Oral Health Advisory Panel

The Oral Health Advisory Panel (OHAP) was established in 2013 to raise the awareness of the importance of good oral health and its impact on general wellbeing. The panel comprises 13 independent health care experts including Dental Practitioners (Dentists, Dental Therapists & Oral Health Therapists), Academics leading research into improving oral health, Public Health Advisors, an Accredited Practising Dietitian (with expertise in oral health), a Developmental Psychologist and representation from the Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (ACHPER), and the Australian Dental Association.

Colgate has enabled the establishment of the group and is represented on the panel by Dr Sue Cartwright, Scientific Affairs Manager and Dentist of 25 years.

 

Issued by Quay Communications on behalf of the Oral Health Advisory Panel (OHAP)

To arrange an interview with a local OHAP member, please contact:

Media enquiries: Cheryl Pettinau, Quay Communications, 02 9386 9161 / 0424 157 714 or
Emma Norgrove, Quay Communications, 02 9386 9161/0499 688 001

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