The Conversation: Collaborating with communities delivers better oral health for Indigenous kids in rural Australia

Posted on July 23rd, 2020

Aboriginal children in rural Australia have up to three times the rate of tooth decay compared to other Australian children. Tooth decay can affect a person’s overall health and nutrition because it can affect how they chew and swallow. Tooth decay can also reduce self esteem because of its effect on appearance and breath. And importantly, poor oral health increases the risk of chronic disease such as heart disease.

Yet tooth decay is both preventable and treatable. Broadly speaking, improving oral health is critical to closing the gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and Australians overall. Tackling this gap requires customised, community-led solutions. Our research demonstrates co-design — that is, engaging communities to design and deliver services for their own communities — is associated with significantly improved oral health among Aboriginal primary school children. This approach may also hold the answer for closing the gap in other areas of health care.

Oral health among Aboriginal children

In the middle of last century, Aboriginal children actually had significantly better oral health than other Australian children. But today, Aboriginal children have roughly double the rate of tooth decay compared to other Australian children. A range of factors have contributed to this recent problem, starting with colonisation — the effects of which have been compounded over time — and the shift to a highly processed Westernised diet.

Where interventions to prevent common oral diseases like tooth decay have become available to most Australian children in recent decades, Aboriginal children in rural Australia have historically had limited access to public dental services. The disparity is compounded by the cost of basic supplies like toothpaste and toothbrushes, which may be unattainable for some families, and poor availability of cool filtered drinking water in remote communities.

Read the full article here in The Conversation > 

Latest News

Filling the Gap General Manager, Kate Miranda, speaks to David Keir of Dental Head Start about volunteering opportunities in dentistry
28 July 2020
The Conversation: Collaborating with communities delivers better oral health for Indigenous kids in rural Australia
23 July 2020
Volunteer dentists use their skills to help those less fortunate at dental aid clinic
22 July 2020
ADA NSW President Dr Kathleen Matthews has presented to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety
16 July 2020
Free dental treatment worth more than $8,000 provided at Filling The Gap’s dental charity clinic
10 July 2020
New Dental Practitioner Support 24/7 Helpline launched
6 July 2020
array(16) { ["custom_css_post_id"]=> int(718) ["nav_menu_locations"]=> array(1) { ["top"]=> int(10) } ["ftg_donate_display"]=> string(4) "show" ["ftg_under_construction"]=> string(4) "hide" ["ftg_signup_display"]=> string(4) "show" ["ftg_site_status"]=> string(6) "normal" ["custom_logo"]=> int(8583) ["header_text"]=> int(0) ["ftg_contact_address"]=> string(51) "Level 1, 1 Atchison Street
St Leonards NSW 2065" ["ftg_contact_phone"]=> string(14) "(02) 8436 9942" ["ftg_contact_email"]=> string(26) "smile@fillingthegap.org.au" ["ftg_editor_display"]=> string(4) "hide" ["sidebars_widgets"]=> array(2) { ["time"]=> int(1551911490) ["data"]=> array(2) { ["wp_inactive_widgets"]=> array(0) { } ["home-bottom"]=> array(1) { [0]=> string(16) "wpforms-widget-2" } } } ["ftg_donate_url"]=> string(40) "https://www.givenow.com.au/fillingthegap" ["ftg_login_function"]=> string(4) "hide" ["ftg_contact_person"]=> string(0) "" }