Leading dentist unsurprised by high rates of decay

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A leading dentist has responded to alarming oral health statistics by saying that he is unsurprised by increasing rates of decay.

Dr Stuart Gairns, chief executive of the Australian Dental Association, said that he was unsurprised by figures which suggested that half of children aged six and twelve suffer from decay. The statistics were released in a report entitled, Dental Decay Among Australian Children, which was compiled by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

In response to the report, Dr Gairns said that a number of factors have contributed to high rates of decay amongst children, notably a change of diet and high consumption of sugary, fizzy drinks. Gairns said that many children “bathe” their teeth in sugary drinks, preferring to sip on energy drinks and cans of pop rather than drinking water or sugar-free drinks.

Dr Gairns also highlighted a lack of access to fluoridated water as a contributing factor; many children live in areas where there is no fluoride in the water. Fluoride helps to strengthen the teeth, making them more resistant to decay.

Dr Gairns also said that parents were unaware of the problems experienced by their children; in older generations, exposure to fluoride was greater and diets contained a lot less sugar. Today, children do not have access to fluoride and they tend to consume a lot more sugar, which increases the risk of oral health diseases dramatically.

In order to lower rates of decay, Dr Gairns said there must be a multi-faceted approach, which involves better education, better oral hygiene, better access to regular dental treatment and a healthier attitude to diet.


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