It's a common saying that prevention is the cure, and it is just as important as ever in dentistry. The key focus for preventive strategies is best started for children, so that their first dental experience is a positive one, and by seeing children early on, dental staff can assist the child to practice good oral hygiene to prevent significant problems from occurring.
Research indicates that 50% of children and three out of 10 adults have untreated tooth decay in Australia, which is concerning given that 90% of dental disease is preventable, with the severity and prevalence of tooth decay increasing since the mid 1990's. By reducing the sugar consumption in the diet, especially of sugary drinks, and acidic foods, and with healthy oral hygiene habits, such as tooth brushing twice a day, and flossing once a day, tooth decay can be prevented.
Early childhood caries (EEC) is the number one chronic disease affecting young children, and is completely preventable. Dental decay disease crosses all socioeconomic boundaries with high prevalence and is a significant health burden in Australia and around the world. Decay is an infectious disease that is modified by diet, and is a significant predictor of long term dental health problems and creates problems with speech, eating and poor self esteem, and therefore prevention is identified as a key priority. Healthy teeth and gums are important to a child's general health and well being, and prevention is most definitely superior to the cure.
Sugar consumption is steadily rising globally, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued recommendations on sugar consumption to reduce the risk of diseases in adults and children, with a specific focus on obesity and tooth decay.
Tooth decay is thought to result in dental care costs which are 5-10% of the health budgets of industrialised countries, and with oral diseases related to systemic disease, dental health is recognised as a measure of good overall health.
One of the challenges with dental health is that many people believe that cavities are inevitable, with almost 100% of adults having experienced tooth decay. Studies indicate that almost half of adults forget to brush and floss before bed, and the expectation ought to be that people can keep their teeth without fillings, with the right preventive care measures, home care and observance by a dental health care provider each 6 months.