A third of Australian adults aged 15 years or more has untreated tooth decay, results of a national oral health study led by the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health (ARCPOH) at the University of Adelaide show.
The National Study of Adult Oral Health 2017-2018 is the third population-based study of its kind in Australia, involving data from more than 15,000 adults aged 15 years or more in each state and territory.
The study is a collaborative project between the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, based in the University of Adelaide’s Adelaide Dental School, and the Department of Health and State and Territory Health Departments and Dental services.
“Self-rated oral health has worsened and reported levels of toothache are increasing. Almost one quarter of adults rated their oral health as fair or poor, and one in five adults experienced toothache,” Professor David Brennan
Professor David Brennan, Director of ARCPOH, said it had been over 10 years since a study like this had been undertaken in Australia.
“The study is giving us important and timely insights into the trends occurring in adult oral health and dental heath behaviours of Australian adults,’’ he said.
“We found that while tooth loss is declining, tooth decay continues to affect a significant proportion of adults: almost a third of adults had untreated tooth decay. On average, Australian adults had 1.4 tooth surfaces with decay. Dental caries is common and has increased in prevalence over time.
“Furthermore, the prevalence of periodontal disease (gum disease) has increased since the last study, with just over 30% of dentate adults experiencing moderate or severe periodontitis.
“Self-rated oral health has worsened and reported levels of toothache are increasing. Almost one quarter of adults rated their oral health as fair or poor, and one in five adults experienced toothache.”
Professor Brennan said use of services is declining, and adults are avoiding or delaying care due to cost, a trend that is increasing over time.
“Overall, nearly four in ten adults reported that they avoided or delayed visiting a dentist due to cost,’’ he said.
The National Study of Adult Oral Health 2017-2018 was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), with additional funding and support from federal, state and territory health departments and dental services, and support from the Australian Dental Association, Colgate and Bupa.
The final report can be viewed here: Final Report