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Dental health issues hitting Aussie women hardest

We take a look at the trends in dental health in Australia.

Australian women were 18% more likely to seek dental treatments than men in the last 3 years, according to new Medibank member data.

Medibank data has revealed that dental visiting patterns have remained high over the last three years, with nearly 1.5 million Australians seeking dental care in 2015 alone – the majority of which were female.

Women more likely to require Major Dental services

The biggest variance between men and women was seen in Major Dental services – covering periodontics (such as the treatment of gum disease), crowns, dentures and bridges, as well as major restorative fillings like veneers – where women were 30% more likely to seek treatment than men.

Medibank’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Linda Swan said the findings support this year’s Dental Health Week theme ‘Women and Oral Health’, which highlights how hormonal changes can have adverse effects on a woman’s oral health, with menstruation, pregnancy and menopause all identified as potential contributors to issues like gingivitis and increased sensitivity of teeth and gums.

“It’s a little known fact that hormonal changes can make women more prone to experiencing dental health issues than men and this could explain why we’re seeing a difference in the number of men and women seeking Major Dental services.

“These findings remind us of the importance of women doing everything they can to maintain good oral health. To help protect gums and prevent inflammation and disease, we recommend both men and women schedule regular dental checkups and scale and clean treatments so that any issues are dealt with early on,” said Dr Swan.

Orthodontic treatments more common amongst Aussie women and children

On a national level, orthodontic services have continued to rise year-on-year, with claims for adults up 17.3% since 2013, and 5.8% for children. Additionally, the data found adult women were three times more likely to access orthodontic services than men between 2013 and 2015, and looking at children specifically, girls were 30% more likely to use orthodontics than boys.

“With claims for orthodontics rising significantly amongst adults, and being considerably higher amongst women, this could imply that as a nation we’re becoming increasingly concerned with the cosmetic appearance of our teeth,” said Dr Swan.

Tips to prevent oral health issues

  • Brush your teeth correctly: A common mistake people make is applying too much pressure when brushing their teeth. This can cause gums to recede, making teeth more vulnerable to decay. If this is the case for you, try loosening your grip and opt for a brush with soft bristles.
  • Floss: Brushing is never enough on its own. You should aim to floss at least once a day to ensure plaque is removed from areas between your teeth and follow up with an antimicrobial/antiseptic mouthwash.
  • Avoid sugary treats and drinks: Sugary foods and drinks wear away at the enamel on your teeth and cause tooth decay.
  • Schedule regular dentist visits: It’s a good idea to see your dentist for a checkup, scale and clean at least once a year to ensure everything is in order, and to help catch any issues at their earliest stage.
  • Avoid smoking: We all know the harmful effects smoking has on the body – and this includes teeth and gums. Not only does it cause bad breath and yellowing of the teeth, but also increases the risk of gum diseases and oral cancers.
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