Public dental patients have fewer teeth, more cavities

During dental health week, a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) finds public dental patients, as a group, suffer from poorer oral health related to their lower socioeconomic status and barriers to accessing dental services.

Compared to the general Australian population, a higher percentage of public dental patients had fewer teeth.

'This pattern was observed in all age groups attending for general care, and for emergency patients 35 years and older,' said Dr David Brennan of the AIHW's Dental Statistics and Research Unit based at The University of Adelaide.

'A higher percentage of adult public dental patients also had one or more decayed teeth compared to the general population,' he said.

This pattern was observed regardless of patient age or type of care (i.e. emergency and general care).

The report, Oral health of adult public dental patients, provides information on the oral health of adult public dental patients from 2004-07 and compares their oral health status with estimates for the Australian population from The National Survey of Adult Oral Health, 2004-06.

Findings were presented on the percentage of persons with less than 21 teeth, prevalence of tooth decay and fillings, and gum disease by the age of patient and for emergency and general courses of care.

Dental health week kicks off on 4 August 2008. Dental Health Week is a community awareness program coordinated and funded by the Australian Dental Association.

Several other AIHW dental reports were also released today:

  • Dental labour force in Australia, 2005
  • Dental hygienist labour force in Australia, 2005
  • Dental therapist labour force in Australia, 2005
  • Dental prosthetist labour force in Australia, 2005
  • Eight state and territory reports presenting results from The National Survey of Adult Oral Health 2004-06.

Thursday 7 August 2008

Further information: Dr David Brennan, AIHW, 08 8303 4046.

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. 61 2 6244 1032.