One week for a lifetime of dental health: What you need to know about Dental Health Week.
Maintaining dental health has many more benefits than simply producing a dazzling smile, and Dental Health Week aims to promote the importance of taking care of your teeth. Held in the first full week of August Australia-wide and run by the Australian Dental Association, this is the association’s major annual oral health promotion event. Its purpose is to teach Australians about just how critical it is to maintain good oral health.
Dental Health Week has three main objectives:
- Promoting awareness and education about oral health in the general community
- Encouraging dentists to promote oral health
- Inspire continued collaboration within the dental profession
Good dental health is not only important for your teeth but also for your overall health and wellbeing. With this in mind, learning how to properly take care of your teeth is a crucial lifetime skill and this week dedicated to dental health each year is designed to encourage Australians to change their dental habits and promote healthy behaviour.
Each year, Dental Health Week focuses on a particular aspect of oral health to help Australians better understand the importance of dental health in everyday life. As you’ll see in the list below, previous Dental Health Weeks have focused on an impressively broad range of topics, many of which are often overlooked by ordinary Australians.
Previous Dental Health Week themes have been:
- 2016: Women and oral health. The 2016 event examined how hormones can disrupt the oral health of women, with the aim to address a lack of awareness about how different life stages can affect a woman’s teeth and gums. Puberty, pregnancy, menstruation and menopause can all have a significant effect on a woman’s dental health.
- 2015: The Seven Sporting Sins: How your actions on the field affect your oral health. Australia is often said to be a nation obsessed with sport, so the 2015 Dental Health Week examined the dramatic effects that everything you do on the sporting field can have on your dental health. This includes everything from the sports drinks you consume to the customised mouthguards you wear.
- 2014: The Sugar Bandit: The battle for the oral health of Australia’s children. In response to studies showing that Australian parents are facing an uphill battle to maintain their kids’ oral health, 2014 Dental Health Week focused on oral health for toddlers and babies. In particular, the aim of the event was to promote awareness of the disastrous effects of sugar on a child’s teeth and gums.
- 2013: The Young Person’s Oral Survival Guide. Your 20s are meant to be a time of fun and fast living, but all that partying can take a toll on your dental health. Drinking, smoking, taking drugs and even engaging in oral sex can all have detrimental effects on your pearly whites.
- 2012: Let’s Stop the Rot. Tooth decay is painful and also expensive for those who suffer from it, but it is also largely preventable. That’s why the 2012 event focused on educating adults and children about the importance of good oral hygiene and maintaining a healthy diet.
The Australian Dental Association is a membership body that represents more than 85% of Australian dentists and is committed to educating dentists as well as their patients. The association aims to help its members give the best possible health care to their patients and to promote awareness of oral health issues in the wider community.
During 2015-16, the Australian Dental Association launched a range of programs and initiatives to promote good dental health around Australia. These included:
- Launching Protecting Teen Teeth, an online resource for dental practitioners and their patients to raise awareness of the impact of smoking, sugary drinks and eating disorders on oral health.
- Educating and advising its members on infection control issues.
- Working with Best Practice Productions to create digital education training videos and improve oral health awareness in the community.
- Introducing a mentor program for new graduate members.
It’s important to create healthy dental habits at any stage of life, but the earlier you can get started, the better it will be for your oral health. In particular, if you’re a parent to young children then it’s critical to impress the importance of dental health on your kids from a young age, and being a part of Dental Health Week is a great way to get involved in the community and teach your kids some important health lessons.
Three things you can do for Dental Health Week
Want to be a part of Dental Health Week? Here’s three great ways to get involved and teach your family about good dental health – you might even learn something while you’re at it.
- Educate. Use fact sheets and a range of downloadable resources to help get the message out about the importance of dental health.
- Host an event. The Australian Dental Association provides a comprehensive event handbook that covers everything you need to know about organising an event for Dental Health Week, including publicising the event. This is a great way for people to join forces and work together as a community to promote dental health.
- Spread the word. The association offers a digital resource kit packed full of display banners, posters, fact sheets and flyers. By getting your own business and other local businesses involved in spreading awareness of dental health, you can help improve oral health standards in your community.
Cover for dental treatments and services is one of the core components of private health insurance extras cover. With this in mind, taking out an adequate level of private health insurance cover is an important step in maintaining dental health for you and your family.
In some cases, private health funds will run their own dental clinics or have participating dental providers. The aim of these services is to enable fund members to access affordable, good-quality dental care whenever they need it.
However, be wary of any fund that tries to force you to choose a particular dentist or dental health provider, as the Australian Dental Association believes that maintaining patient choice is essential to ensuring that high-quality dental care is available throughout Australia.
It’s also important to be aware of the exact level of dental cover included in your private health insurance policy. From excluded treatments to lower-than-expected rebate amounts, some people are left with expensive bills that they mistakenly believed would be covered by their health fund. The Australian Dental Association provides a range of information and resources through its website to help people choose the right health insurance cover, and also provides advice on how to make a complaint if you ever have a problem with your cover.