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ADA NSW Vice-President Dr Kathleen Matthews discusses how major dental problems are on the rise across the region

1 August 2019
The Daily Advertiser
By Jody Lindbeck

NSW government figures show that for the last financial year, there were 654 cases of what are recorded as "potentially preventable hospitalisations" for dental conditions in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District.

A year earlier, that figure was 601 and in 2015-16 it was lower again at 529.

Wagga-based dentist Kathleen Matthews, who is a NSW board member of the Australian Dental Association, said there are similar rises being seen across NSW.

"We know the disease burden for dental disease is worse for regional and rural Australia, so we [Murrumbidgee] tick that box via geography and we also have, probably when you look at the socio-economic range within the population, a very similar result. We have more vulnerable people within our borders," Dr Matthews said.

"We know those who are more vulnerable in the population experience the worst amount of dental disease or dental decay."

Dr Matthews said one of the biggest causes of dental disease remained the community's taste for sugar.

"One of the problems people present with include dental decay and I think that probably its around the underlying sugar consumption burden across the whole of the population," she said.

"But people aren't sitting around eating lollies. That's not it. It's actually where sugar is sitting within processed foods.

"People are busy. We're all trying to just get the kids fed and get to bed and work the next day and all those sort of things, so it's really understanding food labelling and really trying to limit extra sugar

"The World Health Organisation recommends six added teaspoons of sugar a day per person and in Australia we track somewhere between 22 teaspoons for children and 40 for adults and that's really significant."

Dr Matthews believes a wide approach needs to be taken in tackling dental disease, which can be particularly important for people with other chronic disease.

"It's not just a Murrumbidgee approach, it's a statewide approach. I think really we'd like to advocate better access to oral health services and oral preventative services across our districts and across all of NSW."

Ahead of Dental Health Week, which runs from August 5 to 11, Dr Matthews said people can make significant improvements by brushing their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and by drinking only water or plain milk between meals. 


Read The Daily Advertiser Article here

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