NACCHO Aboriginal Health News / Download : The AMA 2019 Report Card on Indigenous Health launched at @DanilaDilba ACCHO #Darwin by @amapresident that focusses on the oral health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia

” Good oral health is fundamental to our overall health and wellbeing. It allows us to eat and speak without pain, discomfort or embarrassment.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults have much higher rates of dental disease that their non-Indigenous counterparts across Australia, which can largely be attributed to the social determinants of health.

Indigenous Australians are also less likely to receive the dental care that they need.” 

The 2019 Report Card on Indigenous Health focusses on the oral health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia was launched in Darwin last week 

Download the 36 Page Report HERE

2019 AMA Report Card on Indigenous Health

Pictured above : Warren Snowdon MHR Member for Lingiari ,Tony Bartone, President of the Australian Medical Association. Shannon Daly. Deputy Chairperson of Danila Dilba, NT Minister for Health Natasha Fyles: Member for Nightcliff .

Good oral health is fundamental to our overall health and wellbeing. It allows us to eat and speak without pain, discomfort or embarrassment.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults have much higher rates of dental disease that their non-Indigenous counterparts across Australia, which can largely be attributed to the social determinants of health. Indigenous Australians are also less likely to receive the dental care that they need.

Opportunities exist for political leaders at all levels of government to implement solutions to improve the oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. This includes increasing fluoridation of Australia’s water supplies, enhancing oral health promotion, growing the Indigenous dental workforce and strengthening data collection to monitor and evaluate the oral health status and the performance of oral health care services.

Fundamentally, governments must ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to affordable, culturally appropriate oral health care programs.

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people rely on public oral health services, where they exist.

However, the availability of these services depends on government funding, which is often short-term. Consequently, a significant proportion of the Indigenous population live without regular dental care, which has adverse health outcomes.

Oral health care is an important part of primary health care.

We urge governments to note the recommendations contained in this Report Card and put them into action to improve the oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

Related document (Public): 

2019 AMA Report Card on Indigenous Health.pdf

Related AMA content (Internal page): 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Report Cards

Oral health is fundamental to overall health and wellbeing. Good oral health allows people to eat, speak and socialise without pain, discomfort or embarrassment.

Five action areas present opportunities for governments to improve the oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. They are:

  • Fluoridated water supplies, especially in
  • Oral health promotion that works with fluoride varnish programs and a tax on sugar-sweetened
  • An effective dental workforce with greater participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • Better coordination and reduced institutional racism in oral health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • Data to know that the work being done is making a

Government action is needed because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults have dental disease at two to three times the rates of their non-Indigenous counterparts in urban, rural, and remote communities across Australia. They are also much less likely to get needed dental care.

The social determinants of health, such as poverty, racism, and colonialism contribute to a large proportion of the oral health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their non-Indigenous peers.

As a result, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pre-school and primary-school-aged children are much more likely to be hospitalised for dental problems.

Community water fluoridation is a safe, effective, and equitable way to reduce dental decay. In Australia, access to fluoridated water varies due to the lack of a national approach.

This disadvantages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared with non-Indigenous Australians because a greater proportion livein rural and regional areas, where water fluoridation is less common.

The situation is particularly concerning in Queensland where nearly half of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population does not have water fluoridation. Australian Government funding for State and Territory dental services is a lever to push for more water fluoridation.

Fluoride varnish programs also help in preventing dental decay, with proven effect in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The application is simple and requires minimal training. Australian Government leadership is needed to identify and remove the regulatory, administrative and program barriers to effective fluoride varnish programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults.

Sugary drinks are a major source of sugar that fuels tooth decay. A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages will reduce consumption and tooth decay, as well as the incidence of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Nearly 70 per cent of Australians are in favour of taxes on soft drinks.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are nearly twice as likely to suffer from dental pain as non- Indigenous Australians, and five times as likely to have missing teeth. Pain from dental disease, and damage to teeth, can be effectively managed by dental practitioners.

Governments need to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with culturally safe dental care programs that are planned and implemented through collaborative and equal partnerships between communities and providers.

It is also well understood that health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are improved when they are treated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals.

However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are grossly under-represented in the oral health workforce. The goal of 780 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dental practitioners by 2040 should be set as a target to promote employment parity in the dental workforce.

Finally, more comprehensive, consistent and coordinated oral health data are needed to better monitor and evaluate oral health status, as well as the performance of oral health care services across Australia. This in turn will lead to improvements in the oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The two major dental diseases are tooth decay (caries) and gum disease (periodontal disease). Both diseases can cause pain, loss of function, and disfigurement.

Tooth decay is a chronic disease caused by dietary sugar. Oral bacteria ferment sugar to produce acids that demineralise, and ultimately destroy, the teeth. Tooth decay progresses with age, creating a lifelong burden.1 Gum disease damages the bone and gum supporting the teeth, and its progress is insidious, with symptoms of pain and loose teeth in the advanced stages

Gum disease susceptibilit varies between individuals, with a genetic component, and is exacerbated by smoking and diabetes.2,

 

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