- + Key points: Oral health
Overall, oral health in NSW is good by world standards. However, oral health varies with age and among population subgroups.
Oral health is worse in areas with no access to a fluoridated community water supply.
Oral Health 2020: A Strategic Framework for Dental Health in NSW contains a summary of key indicators of oral health for children, adults and disadvantaged groups.
- + Background: Oral health
Oral health is an integral component of lifelong health and is much more than the absence of oral disease. Oral health includes a person's comfort in eating and social interactions, their self-esteem and satisfaction with their appearance.
A key indicator of the oral health status of a population is the dental caries experience. In the primary dentition, this is recorded as the number of primary teeth that are decayed (d), missing (m) due to dental caries, or filled (f) because of dental caries. Permanent caries experience (DMFT) is recorded as the number of permanent teeth that are either decayed (D), missing (M) because of dental caries, or filled (F) because of dental caries
Burden of disease
In recent years, dental caries was the most prevalent health problem, and periodontal diseases were the fifth most prevalent health problem in Australia. About 90% of all tooth loss can be attributed to these two health problems and, because they are preventable and treatable, most tooth loss is avoidable. In recent decades, factors such as changes in diet, reduced sugar consumption, exposure to fluoride, and changes in disease management have contributed to significant improvements in oral health. Australians in all states and territories enjoy a relatively high standard of oral health. However, this high standard is not equally distributed among different age and social groups.
Oral health is affected by a complex interplay of social, environmental, and economic factors that extend beyond risk behaviour. Specific population groups, such as refugees and prison inmates, continue to experience extensive oral disease.
- + Interventions: Oral health
The Strategic Framework Oral Health 2020 sets the platform for oral health action in NSW into the next decade. It provides an overview of the oral health status of the population, outlines the goals for oral health services, describes target groups that require focused efforts, and outlines the high level actions that will be pursued to improve the oral health of the population. The Strategic Framework will support the NSW Ministry of Health and Local Health Districts to plan and deliver priority programs tailored to the health needs of the populations at both a state and local level.
The goals of Oral Health 2020: A Strategic Framework for Dental Health in NSW are to:
1. Improve access to oral health services in NSW.
2. Reduce disparities in the oral health status of people in NSW.
3. Improve the oral health of the NSW population through primary prevention.
Further information about oral health strategies in NSW can be found at: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/oralhealth/Pages/default.aspx
- + For more information: Oral health
Useful websites include:
National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. Canberra. Available at: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines/publications/eh52
Australian Bureau of Statistics at http://www.abs.gov.au
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare at http://www.aihw.gov.au
healthdirect at http://www.healthdirect.gov.au