Dental Health Week: how’s your oral health tracking?

Posted on 14th July 2019

August marks the most important date in a dentist’s calendar: Dental Health Week! This year’s Dental Health Week runs from August 5-11, with the theme: “How’s your oral health tracking?” We asked Dr Fleur Creeper about the oral-health tracker and how dental practitioners can implement it for Dental Health Week

The oral-health tracker is a project that examines the status of our national oral health – and sets out clear and measurable oral-health targets.

“It highlights the link between oral health and preventable chronic diseases and their risk factors, emphasising the importance of oral health on general health and well-being,” Fleur explains.

“The need for the tracker was highlighted by the alarming statistics, which show how poor oral health habits and poor diet are affecting the wellbeing of Australians.

“A number of health-improvement targets have been developed for children and adults and these are essential in raising awareness of the burden of oral disease. This is in line with the WHO Action Plan to prevent chronic diseases across the globe.”

What can dentists do to get Australia’s oral health on track?
Fleur recommends updating your knowledge base on the statistics and facts, and then starting a conversation about oral health – with your patients, friends, medical and allied-health colleagues, school groups, sporting groups, community groups, politicians and neighbours.

“The more people talking about oral health, the more the nation’s leaders will be empowered to work towards effectively addressing the oral health burden in Australia, as well as preventing and better managing the resultant chronic disease at the population level,” she says.

“At a patient level, messages such as the importance of twice-daily brushing aren’t reaching all of the community,” Fleur adds. “This relatively simple-to-implement step hasn’t been widely adopted by the community and is a really important preventative measure. Have regular conversations about this and encourage everyone to adopt this simple measure, ideally using a fluoridated toothpaste.

“Have regular discussions about diet and the impact of sugar on oral and general health.

“Spend time on oral health and hygiene education with your patients including diet, the importance of tap water as the beverage of choice, and oral-hygiene measures patients can implement and practice daily at home.”

Spread the word
There is much the community should know about oral health this Dental Health Week – and a great place to start is with your patients.

“Oral health is important and really deserves to be prioritised,” Fleur says. “The links between oral health and general health are now widely known and many preventable chronic diseases and conditions have similar risk factors to poor oral health, so implementing steps to improve your oral health will have general health flow-on effects.”

Fleur says it is really easy to make small changes at home:

  • Brush twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste
  • Clean between your teeth once a day – use floss or interdental brushes
  • Drink plenty of tap water
  • Limit snacks between meals
  • Visit your dentist regularly – they can provide you with specific, tailored advice, tips and tricks for your particular situation

For more information about Dental Health Week and the Oral Health Tracker, visit the ADA national website, www.ada.org.au/Dental-Health-Week/Home