Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Friday, June 03, 2005

Dental health fails: study

Dental health fails: study
Eugene Duffy
Tuesday, 24 May 2005

WIMMERA health authorities showed little surprise at a new report highlighting the disparity between rural and metropolitan health, particularly a large difference in dental health.

The Institute of Health and Welfare report, the first major comparison between rural and city health, outlined how tooth decay rates were 1.3 times worse in rural areas.

The Federal Government report attributed the cause to fewer dentists and less than half the rate of water fluoridation.

Wimmera Uniting Care executive officer Peter Brown said the report confirmed the group's belief in the urgency of regional health issues.

"The results of this report highlights the areas of greatest concern that we have attempted to target," Mr Brown said.

Mr Brown said the Wimmera Oral Health Care Group had been promoting water fluoridation for several months as one of the strategies to correct the imbalance.

He said the other keys to addressing the community problem were dental health awareness, including better dietary habits and addressing the shortage of regional dental services.

Horsham Dental Group partner Dr Ross Barnes said 22 years in regional dental care showed the difference in dental health was worse than the report indicated.

"I have dentist friends in Melbourne who will do an extraction on average once a month, while I will do two to three a day," Dr Barnes said.

He said the three strategies to combat poor regional dental health were equally important, but fluoridation was a readily available solution that had proven benefits in metropolitan areas.

"Melbourne has now had fluoridation for nearly 30 years and there is no great controversy about it now," he said.

Another Horsham Dental Group partner Dr Bret Sonnberger said fluoridation had the advantage of being universally accessible.

"Dental caries tend to happen more often in low socio-economic groups due to worse diet and less frequent visits to a dentist; fluoridisation is one way to get through to those people," Dr Sonnberger said.

He said there was one dentist to every 10,000 people in regional areas compared with a dentist for every 3000 in metropolitan areas.

"There are not enough graduating dentists to make up for the growing population or the number of retirements occurring," he said.

Dr Sonnberger said incentives to encourage more regional dentists were insufficient.