Dental caries prevalence continues to affect Australian adults, study says
ADELAIDE, Australia: A recent study, led by the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health (ARCPOH) at the University of Adelaide, aimed to describe the oral health status of the Australian population. The findings showed that the prevalence of dental caries continues to increase in the country, and a third of Australian adults are left with untreated caries.
The National Study of Adult Oral Health 2017–2018 involved data from over 15,000 adults aged 15 years or older in each state and territory and is the third population-based study of its kind in Australia.
“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,” said Prof. David Brennan, director of ARCPOH. According to Brennan, the present study is both relevant and timely, since no similar study has been undertaken in Australia for over ten years.
“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,” he continued.
Additionally, the findings revealed that the prevalence of periodontal disease has also increased since the last study and that more than 30% of dentate adults experience moderate or severe periodontitis.
Brennan believes that adults are avoiding or delaying dental care owing to financial barriers resulting from an increase in treatment costs. “Overall, nearly four in ten adults reported that they avoided or delayed visiting a dentist due to cost,” he noted.
The study, titled Australia’s Oral Health: National Study of Adult Oral Health 2017–18, was published by ARCPOH.