Why most Australians need to improve their oral hygiene

Tooth decay and gingivitis (gum disease) are among the most widespread health problems faced by Australians across all age groups. The number one reason? Bad oral hygiene habits.

Studies reveal that less than half of Aussies follow their dentist's recommendations for taking care of their oral health. Poor oral hygiene puts your oral health at risk.

The good news is that problems like cavities, gum disease and bad breath are easy to prevent – you just need to get into a good oral hygiene routine.

Prevent tooth decay

Research commissioned by the Australian Dental Association (ADA) found that tooth decay is now Australia's most common health problem. There are around 19 million decayed teeth across the country, with another 11 million teeth becoming decayed every year[i].

The report also found that 57% of Australians expect to have tooth decay at some point in their lives, and 60% of parents expect their children to have cavities – despite most tooth decay being easily preventable!

To prevent tooth decay and keep your teeth and gums healthy, you should always:

  • brush your teeth at least twice a day,
  • use a fluoride toothpaste,
  • floss daily.

It's also important to avoid food and drink that's highly acidic or high in sugar, as this creates more plaque that damages your teeth over time. Your dental practitioner may recommend that you use a fluoride mouthwash or drink fluoridated tap water to lower your tooth decay risk even further.

While most people are aware of these oral hygiene recommendations, 30% of Australians (35% of children) admit that they only brush their teeth once a day. Many people never floss at all, leaving the spaces between their teeth and other hard-to-reach areas vulnerable to plaque.

Even those who do brush twice a day may not be as thorough as they need to be, with only 23% of people saying they brush for the recommended two minutes. If you're not sure how long you're brushing for, you can set a timer on your phone or brush along to a favourite song.

Banish bad breath

Good oral hygiene isn't just about preventing toothaches – it’s also about eliminating halitosis (bad breath).

Just how bad is bad breath? The ADA study found that halitosis and the sight of decayed teeth were by far the biggest turn-offs on a first date for 83% of people. (For comparison, body odour lagged behind at just 5%).

Persistent bad breath is often a symptom of oral health problems such as tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease that have more serious consequences too. If left untreated, these conditions may lead to tooth loss and permanent damage to your gums and jaw. They can also cause serious health concerns in other parts of the body if bacteria enters the bloodstream.

Improve your oral hygiene today

Prevention is always better than treatment when it comes to your oral health. When you follow your dental practitioner’s recommendations for oral hygiene and keep up with your dental appointments every six months, you're more likely to visit us for routine oral examination rather than a dental procedure.

Read more oral hygiene tips to keep your teeth and gums healthy and your breath smelling fresh.


[i] Australian Dental Association. ‘Tooth Decay – Australia’s Most Prevalent Health Problem’. http://www.adawa.com.au/media/articles/News/20120620-Tooth-Decay---Australia--039-s-Most-Prevalent-Health-Condition-307/Dental-Health-Week-2012-Tooth-Decay.pdf