Dental Health Week

Get your teeth back on track

GET your mouth on track” is the message from the Australian Dental Association for this year’s Dental Health Week.

The association says people are tracking all sorts of things during their day, such as how many steps they’ve walked, how many calories they burned, what their heart rate was; but when it comes to their oral health they’re a little less rigorous.

But the ADA says that like anything that’s necessary and good for you, tracking what steps you’ve taken to keep your smile tip-top and disease-free is really important.

“It’s definitely worth adding a daily To Do list,” says the ADA.

But it doesn’t have to be a list like a Senate ballot paper, as there’s just four things to remember.

• Brushing. Only half the country brush their teeth twice a day, and many spend longer laughing at goats on Youtube than actually cleaning their teeth; as any dentist will tell you, it takes at least two minutes to get into all the fiddly corners of your mouth. And use a soft-bristled brush, as your enamel’s not really that enamoured with sandpaper.

• Flossing helps remove the plaque between your teeth and goes a long way to preventing gum disease. Use a gentle side-to-side motion, but if you’re not sure about your technique, have a chat to your dentist who’ll give you some tips.

• Say “Hello” to your dentist. Research shows 65 per cent of Australians haven’t seen a dentist in two years, but the ADA says you should be getting their at least once a year and even twice to make sure your dental hygiene is tip-top.

• Eat and drink well. Don’t have too much sugar, avoid snacking between meals, concentrate on vegies and dairy and drink lots of water.

We’d add another one-off to this list: write to your local MP imploring them (yes, use that word) to increase the federal budget for dental services, as it’s currently sitting at just 2.1 per cent of all health spending. In fact, take it further and insist (use that word again) that dental health be included in Medicare, if only to make the lives happier for the many thousands of kids who are suffering oral disease but aren’t able to access timely treatment.

Sugar tax: It works, comrade

A FORMER soviet bloc country has jumped ahead of Australia in its efforts to tackle the dental crisis caused by sugary drinks.

Although Romania is still recovering economically from the brutal Ceaușescu dictatorship and is ranked just 52nd on the Human Development Index (Australia is 3rd), earlier this week it announced it was adopting a tax on sugary drinks – the holy grail of the Australian Dental Association.

Noting Romania’s move, the ADA says it will not only tackle obesity but have a significantly positive effect on peoples’ oral health.

“‘Sugar taxes’, as they are often referred to, are a key recommendation of the World Health Organisation which believes the measure is an integral part of a suite of measures needed to reduce obesity and decay throughout the world,” the ADA said in a release.

Like Romania, the ADA wants any revenue raised from a sugar tax to be reinvested in full into promoting health initiatives.

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