HCF dental health expert urges Australians to stop neglecting their teeth.
Sydney, 7 August 2017: Today, Australia’s largest not-for-profit health fund, HCF, revealed how the nation stacks up in its battle against tooth decay, in the hope of inspiring action ahead of Dental Health Week beginning Monday, 7th August.
According to Dr Christopher Ho, Dentist-in-Charge at HCF Sydney City Dental Centre, Australian dental health has improved over the last two decades thanks to growing awareness. However, nearly a quarter (24%) of visits to the dentist in a year were for fillings, and less than half of Australian adults (49%) proactively visited the dentist for at least a check-up, according to an audit of 1.2 million HCF members with extras cover.
HCF’s data shows younger Australians (age 18-25) in particular were the least likely to visit the dentist annually. HCF data also showed 4 in 10 (44%) of children over five didn’t visit the dentist in a single year, corroborated by the National Oral Health Alliance (NOHA) reporting nearly half of 6-year-old children with decay in their ‘baby teeth’. 1
“Many Australians treat their dentist like visiting their doctor, waiting for something to go wrong with their teeth or their children’s oral health before scheduling a visit. The issue with this is the myriad of dental problems that don’t always have obvious symptoms – a dental cavity may not cause intense pain, gum disease can manifest as just a bit of redness – and if left untreated these oral health issues can lead to even more extensive treatment as well as putting your health at risk,” explained Dr Ho.
Comparing the states, Northern Territorians and West Australians may be overlooking their teeth health the most, with less than half (30% and 43% respectively) of HCF members from these states claiming dental services in 2016. Similarly, Tasmanians were the state with eligible members most likely to get a filling (26%).
Queenslanders appear to be more proactive about their dental health, with nearly two-thirds (61%) of eligible HCF members in the state claiming dental services in 2016. NSW residents are also dental-savvy – over half (57%) of NSW members claimed for dental treatment in a single year, and they were also the state most likely of any to invest in a fluoride application (59%). HCF members in South Australia were the most likely to claim for a dental check-up (89%). And overall, over half (57%) of eligible members claimed for some sort of dental treatment in a single year.
The good news is the majority of Australians only need minor dental treatment. The five most common dental treatments including check-ups, x-rays and fillings still account for over two-thirds (71%) of the dental services HCF members needed in 2016.
While tooth decay can be unsightly and can cause cosmetic issues such as bad breath or a discoloured smile, gum disease or cavities can lead to life-threatening strokes, heart attacks and heart disease. According to NOHA, common dental diseases cause extensive tissue infection, resulting in an estimated 32,000 preventable hospitalisations per year.
“There is still plenty of room for improvement when it comes to Australia’s oral health, so this Dental Health Week is a timely reminder to visit the dentist, and incorporate healthy oral hygiene habits into your daily routine,” continued Dr Ho.
“To deliver greater access and quality services to our members, we’re continuing to expand our network of Dental Centres and our More for Teeth program. HCF has long understood the importance of dental health, with 2017 marking the 30th anniversary of the first HCF Dental Centre opening.”
Dr Ho’s advice for Australians this Dental Health Week includes:
- Brush twice daily using a soft bristle toothbrush, with fluoride toothpaste
- Play your favourite song to ensure you or your family brush teeth for at least two minutes
Use floss at least once a day
- Eat healthily, and limit sugary drinks and food
- Chew (sugarless!) gum after meals to encourage healthy saliva
- Visit the dentist for regular check-ups – at least once a year!
- For parents, remember that your dental health is also important. When you book an appointment for your children, make sure you also book in for a check-up.
Notes to editors: The HCF dental health data is taken from our FY2016 figures from our 1.2 million members with extras cover, unless we state otherwise.
ABOUT HCF MORE FOR TEETH PROGRAM
HCF offers a range of fully covered* services through our More for You programs, supported by a network of over 10,000 providers to give members quality extras cover at an affordable price. With the More for Teeth program, members with extra can visit an HCF Dental Centre or More for Teeth provider* to get 100% back on a range of the most common diagnostic and preventive services, including:
- 1 or 2 check-ups per calendar year
- scale and clean
- fluoride treatment
- 2 mouthguards (limits apply).
* Benefits on these services depend on your level of cover and available limits.
* Not available in NT or Tas.
Issued on behalf of HCF by WE Buchan. Media inquiries to:
- Ellen McIver
Ph: (02) 9237 2814
M: 0414 137 686
- Sophia Brockman
Ph: (02) 9237 2815
M: 0416 558 002
HCF, largest not-for-profit health fund protecting Australians since 1932, covers over 1.5 million members with health and life insurance, community care, travel and pet insurance. On average over the last five years, HCF has paid out more cents in every dollar in premiums to members as benefits than the industry average. With over 35,000 specialists participating in its Medical Gap Cover Scheme and approximately 10,000 providers participating in its 100% back More for You programs, HCF gives members access to quality health care with no gaps or minimal costs compared to non-participating providers. To empower members to put their health first, HCF also offers a range of health and lifestyle services including its My Health Guardian health management program, mobile Victor Chang Health Checks and My Global Specialist second opinion service. HCF’s national network of retail outlets and Australian-based call centres have earned multi-award winning status. HCF members also have access to low cost, high quality services at HCF Dental Centres and HCF Eyecare Centres. Having contributed $50 million to support the health services research funded by the HCF Research Foundation, HCF is devoted to investing in the future of Australia’s health. To learn more about HCF go to hcf.com.au/about-us