With Easter fast approaching, many families across Australia are looking to have some time off from school and work, relax and spend time as a family. For our younger Australians however, Easter also sweetens the time off some more by adding plenty of chocolate into the mix.
While many Australians typically celebrate Easter by handing out Easter eggs and enjoying these treats, the Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists Association (ADOHTA) would like to raise awareness of the threats that these kinds of foods pose to our oral health.
Tan Nguyen, president of ADOHTA, says that parents and carers should take some time this Easter break to talk to their children about how a diet high in sugary foods and drinks – for instance, chocolate Easter eggs – can lead to negative outcomes for their oral health.
"While we all enjoy a chocolate treat, particularly at Easter, it is important to acknowledge how these high sugar foods interrupt the dental hygiene routines of our children", Mr Nguyen has said. "During a time where sugar intake is likely to spike for many children, this is the opportune moment for us to make sure that our kids are following their oral health routine."
"A large proportion of Australians do acknowledge that a diet high in sugar is bad for our teeth, but many of us aren't aware of the importance of maintaining regular oral health routines including dental visits", Mr Nguyen added.
"3 out of 10 Australians have some form of untreated tooth decay. If we aren't removing the plaque from our teeth every day, the sugars in these kinds of foods turn that plaque into acid, which leads to tooth decay. This risk is particularly high for children and adolescents."
ADOHTA recommends that parents should help their children in establishing their oral health routine as early as possible, to ensure a foundation of good oral health into the future. "Oral health routines are vital to good oral health, and once you know what to do, they are really easy to follow", Mr Nguyen has said.
"The ADOHTA website, www.adohta.net.au, provides some fantastic resources that are easy to understand, and can really help parents in establishing a sound oral health routine for their kids. We also have some resources where parents can pick up some tips for themselves too."
"Our organisation is Australia's peak organisation representing Oral Health Practitioners (OHP) who are qualified professionals which include Dental Therapists, Oral Health Therapists. Every day, our members are treating issues like tooth decay for all ages groups, which are largely the result of high-sugar intake and poor oral health care".
Mr Nguyen believes that better utilisation of the OHP workforce is the key to addressing the gaps which currently exist in the oral health service delivery. This is particularly true for those most vulnerable members of society, such as families on low incomes, the elderly, those who live in remote and rural areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
"For over a decade now, ADOHTA has been advocating for better utilisation, and increased recognition of the OHP workforce. Similar to other allied health professionals in primary care, OHPs must still work in a structured relationship with a dentist.""ADOHTA believes that by changing regulations around our member's scope of practice, OHPs will be put in a position where their work will make an even greater contribution to improving the oral and general health of all Australians".