Miles of Smiles
IS YOUR DENTAL HEALTH UP TO SCRATCH? It may not surprise you to discover that one third of Australians avoid or delay visits to the dentist due to the cost (according to a report released in 2011 by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare).
People on low incomes, those who live in rural areas and those without dental insurance dominated this group. However, there are some government sponsored initiatives that can benefit the dental health of older Australians. If you have a veterans card, a health care card or some form of pensioner concession card, you may be eligible for inexpensive dental services, including the provision of dentures.
Neglected dental health can have more serious consequences for general one's health than tooth decay or loss, bad breath or gum disease. However, most cases of periodontal disease and tooth decay can be prevented. Cleaning your teeth after eating, flossing and getting regular check ups can help you put a stop to gum disease conditions like gingivitis. Halitosis (bad breath) can also be kept in check with regular brushing and flossing, and using mouthwash. Even if you wear dentures, it is important to take good care of your mouth. Research has linked poor dental health to a number of serious conditions.
Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can also exacerbate existing heart conditions.
There are several theories that explain the link between periodontal disease and heart disease. One theory is that oral bacteria can affect the heart when they enter the blood stream, attaching to fatty plaques in blood vessels in the heart and contributing to clot formation and subsequent heart attack.
Another possibility is that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease increases plaque build up, which may contribute to swelling of the arteries.
Additional studies have pointed to a relationship between periodontal disease and stroke. In one study that looked at the causal relationship of oral infection as a risk factor for stroke, people at risk of stroke were found more likely to have an oral infection when compared to those in the control group.
People with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than people without diabetes, probably because diabetics are more susceptible to contracting infections. In fact, periodontal disease is often considered a complication of diabetes and individuals with poorly controlled diabetes are especially at risk.
Research has emerged suggesting that the relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes goes both ways - periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar. One study found that when their periodontal infections were treated, the management of their diabetes markedly improved.
Community Dental Clinics
There are more than 60 locations where eligible patients can receive low cost dental care in Victoria. Amongst those eligible are people who hold a valid Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession Card. Dental care can be accessed for around $25 per visit (the most you will need to pay for a complete general course of care is $100). This includes examination and all general dental treatment.
If you believe that you are eligible to attend a Community dental Clinic call 1300 360 054 for further information or visit: www.dhsv.org.au/clinic-locations/community-dental-clinics