Worst Teeth in the World: Who Has Them?
Worst Teeth in the World: Who Has Them?
Nations With The Worst Oral Health Record
It’s shocking to read that Australia comes in third on the list of nations with the worst teeth. This article is widely ranked by Google at the top of several searches for keywords on this topic. However, no credible sources are listed to justify its claims in regard to Australia. The thing is that most ordinary folk accept what pops up on a reasonably credible looking website page or post. Most people do not question the veracity of sources on the internet.
“This Western country may come as a surprise on this list, but its statistics earn it the number 3 spot. Nearly half of all 6-year-olds have tooth decay in their baby teeth. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children between ages four and 15 are more likely to experience dental disease.”
The quoted information above could well be true, as Australia has a shameful record in terms of looking after its indigenous denizens. Out of sight is out of mind for most urban Australians when it comes to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
We found a 2006 article in The Age newspaper online about a report by the Australian Dental association.
“The average Australian will suffer serious decay in at least 10 teeth by their late 30s.
And our overall dental health is second-lowest among developed nations.
“We have the second-worst health for adults and there are disturbing trends with kids at the moment,” the association’s president, Bill O’Reilly, said.
The report was 16 years old but it did provide some evidence for the poor state of oral health in Australia. Collectively we need to find out if things had improved over the last decade and a half or were they still bad on that score.
The 2018 report by the Australian Dental association has some pretty alarming data and messages for us, however. Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in childhood in Australia. 70.3% of kids aged 9-13 years consume too much sugar. 73.1% in the 14-18 years age group consume too much sugar. 34.3% of kids aged 5-6 years have decay in primary teeth. 27.15 of these have untreated tooth decay in primary teeth.
“Action is required urgently to reduce the incidence and impact of chronic diseases, and must address the underlying risk factors and determinants. There is a critical need for a national prevention agenda.”
Governments are only spending 2.1% of their health budgets on dental care in Australia.
According to WHO data from 2019, 38.9% of kids aged 1-9 years have untreated decay in deciduous teeth. 29.5% of kids over 5 years have untreated decay in permanent teeth. 14.4% of kids aged 15+ have severe periodontal disease.
When reading these reports we are reminded of the fact that the only time the plight of Indigenous youth comes to the attention of white Australia is when reports of crime like those recently reported in Alice Springs hits the news and air waves. The health crisis and the neglected state of these human beings are studiously ignored by the media and ordinary Australians otherwise. The people selling the alcohol and sugary processed foods and drinks in places like Alice Springs rarely find the lens of the media. Have you ever tried to buy fresh food in regional Australia? It is hard to find and invariably expensive if you can source it. Booze, cigarettes, and junk food are well catered for and highly accessible in country centres and towns. At some point we are going to have to join the dots and have a proper conversation about the issue of Indigenous health and wellbeing in Australia.
2018/19 – 19% of Indigenous Australians did not get dental help when they needed it over the previous 12 months. 2014/15 – 39% of Indigenous kids aged 10-14 years had teeth or gum problems. 56% of these kids experienced these issues for 12 months. Dental problems experienced in childhood cause serious health problems in adult life.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults have much higher rates of dental disease than their non-Indigenous counterparts across Australia, which can be largely attributed to the social determinants of health, such as poverty, racism and the consequences of colonialism. Indigenous Australians are more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to have multiple caries, have lost all their teeth, and/or to have gum disease and also less likely to receive the dental care that they need.”
Worst teeth in the world: Who has them? Australia stands out on this list, despite our wealth, because we systematically neglect our Indigenous population. We imagine most dentists will be voting “yes” in the coming referendum for our First Nation’s people to get a voice to parliament because it would be a crime otherwise in terms of the ongoing poor health outcomes they endure.
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