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Over 95 per cent of Aboriginal adults have dental caries

The severity and level of untreated dental decay are higher in areas of lower socio-economic status in Australia. (Photograph: Kyrylo Glivin/Shutterstock)

Jan 18, 2016 | News Australia & New Zealand

Over 95 per cent of Aboriginal adults have dental caries

by Dental Tribune International

ADELAIDE & SYDNEY, Australia: Oral diseases, particularly dental caries and periodontal disease, are a significant and costly burden to the Australian public. Although it is known that there are greater levels of oral disease among Aboriginal people, few studies have examined dental caries experience in this ethnic group to date. New research has now shown that the vast majority of Aboriginal adults suffer from the condition.


In the study, 312 Aboriginal adults from Australia’s Northern Territory underwent dental examinations. In addition, self-reported oral health information was collected through a questionnaire.

Data analysis found that 77.9 per cent of the participants had untreated decay and 95.5 per cent had had some caries experience. The researchers also found that the mean DMFT score was 9.7. They pointed out that most of the factors associated with dental caries were social determinants, such as unemployment, or related to access to dental care.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, overall, nearly 550,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were counted in the 2011 census. Only about one-third live in capital city areas; many Aboriginal adults therefore face problems accessing health care services.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates that about one-third of adults in Australia have untreated tooth decay, with the highest proportion of those living in low-income households. In the 2011 census, over half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (56 per cent) reported a weekly household income of between A$200 and A$799. The current average weekly earnings of an adult with full-time employment are A$1,484.50.

The study, titled “Associations with dental caries experience among a convenience sample of Aboriginal Australian adults”, was published in the December issue of the Australian Dental Journal. It was conducted by researchers at the University of Adelaide and the University of Sydney in collaboration with Charles Darwin University, the Royal Darwin Hospital and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.
From http://www.dental-tribune.com

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