Many people think the most common chronic disease is diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis, but did you know that it's actually tooth decay?

According to the Australian Dental Association, more than 90% of Australian adults have decay in their permanent teeth. Australia’s Oral Health Tracker released last year tells us that nearly half of Australians do not brush their teeth twice a day, and three out of every four children and young people consume too much sugar – the leading cause of dental decay. On top of that, 65 percent of us haven't been to the dentist in over two years!

What we think we know

While good oral health can be achieved in just a few minutes per day, bad habits can cause irreversible damage. Here's what you should know.

1. “Only sugars cause tooth decay.” There is no doubt that sugar causes tooth decay, but it's not the only culprit. Cavities develop as a result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. When bacteria in your mouth break down sugars, they produce acid, which becomes trapped in plaque and gradually erodes your tooth enamel. However, acids can also be found in sugar-free foods, such as diet soda, so you must exercise caution when consuming them. When in doubt, water is always the best choice for a refreshing drink.

2. “Bad breath means you have gum disease!” Bad breath can be an indication of gum disease, but it's not always the case. The best way to be certain is to visit your dentist. They will be able to examine your mouth and assess your oral health. If it isn't caused by gum disease or tooth decay, bad breath can be a symptom of acid reflux or another type of digestive issue.

3. “My teeth are white, so they’re perfectly healthy.” Just because your smile looks bright doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy. Gum disease and tooth decay are not always visible to the untrained eye, and there are numerous complications that can lurk just beneath the surface of your teeth.

4. “It’s not that important to brush and floss every single day.” The most important thing you can do for your oral health is to practice good dental hygiene on a daily basis. Dentists don't recommend daily brushing and flossing because it's a catchy phrase – they've spent years learning about how to keep teeth and gums healthy, and they recommend this activity because it's the best way to care for your mouth.

5. “You don’t really have to go to the dentist unless your teeth hurt.” Although pain is a good indicator that you should visit your local dentist, it's not the only reason to do so. Some types of tooth decay can be asymptomatic, which is why it's recommended that you see your dentist at least once every six months for a check-up and cleaning. Taking preventive measures is one of the most effective ways to keep your teeth healthy.

Did you also know that many Australian Health Funds, provide free general dental, preventative, and maintenance benefits to members and their children? Further, many funds also have their own Dental Clinics &/or a preferred Dental Partner Network where you can receive discounted treatment.

If your company already has a Health Benefits Plan, great – now would be a good time to share the above, reminding employees of the importance of good dental health, plus giving them a call-to-action to book their next checkup.

If your company does not have a Health Benefits Plan, then a good next step is to simply book in a time with me to chat. Investigating the possibility of having your own company Health Benefits Plan won't cost you anything.

Here's to happy and healthy smiles 🙂

1,2,3 say Cheeeze! From the team at Anista Employee Benefits.