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Dental problems may result in a person experiencing pain, discomfort and feelings of embarrassment. They may also choose to avoid eating some foods and taking part in certain activities. There is also evidence that chronic oral infections are associated with a range of diseases and conditions, such as heart and lung diseases, stroke, low birthweight and premature births .
On average, Australians aged 15 and over are missing 5 teeth. The number of missing teeth increases with age, from 2 for people aged 15–24 up to 11 for people aged 65 and over. People with dental insurance are missing an average of 1 tooth fewer than uninsured people.
Poor adult oral health is strongly predicted by poor childhood oral health. Since the late 1970s, the oral health of children has improved in Australia, likely reflecting increased access to fluoridated drinking water and toothpaste, and improvements to preventive oral health services and dental hygiene practices. However, more recent trends suggest that children’s oral health may be deteriorating.
Many factors influence how often people use dental services. The reason a person seeks dental care influences the type of care they are likely to receive and the level of untreated problems they may have at any time. People who visit a dental professional for a routine check-up are most likely to benefit from early detection and treatment and receive preventive services. Those who seek care for a dental problem may receive less comprehensive treatment and are less likely to receive preventive services. Generally, people who seek regular and routine care report low levels of extractions and relatively low levels of fillings.
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