Dental caries (tooth decay which can lead to cavities) is still one of the most prevalent chronic diseases worldwide1. However, too many Australians do not fully understand that caries is a largely preventable disease, and do not engage in good oral health behaviours that would reduce the burden of that disease. A burden that is avoidable.
In the face of increasing expenditure from Australian families, health insurance funds, Australian government premium rebates and direct outlay on dental services, oral health in Australia continues to decline.
Dental caries is a common chronic disease in children. After three decades of improvements, decay incidence in Australian children is now increasing, according to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare3.
Over the next few decades the number of dentate elderly (those with their own teeth) will increase markedly. As people age they are more likely to suffer from illnesses that may require ongoing medication. Many medicines affect saliva flow and can increase the risk of dental disease.
The Oral Health Advisory Panel supports increasing awareness and education about the impact of dental caries on Australian families during all stages of life.
1 Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (AIHW) no 54 p1
2 Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (AIHW) http://www.aihw.gov.au/expenditure-‐data/#health (accessed 26 November, 2013)
3 Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (AIHW) 26 August 2005