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Oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

Med J Aust 2008; 188 (10): 592-593.

Oral health problems faced by Indigenous peoples are worsening and require practical long-term solutions

In the 1970s, reports noted that oral health was one area in which Indigenous children enjoyed an advantage over other Australian children.1,2 However, as research improved our understanding of oral diseases, interventions to prevent common oral diseases like dental caries became available to most Australian children and oral health steadily improved. Furthermore, the dental caries that was experienced by most Australian children began to be effectively treated by ready access to dental care through school dental services or private dentists. As Indigenous children were largely unable to access these services for geographical and/or financial reasons, their oral health has worsened over time, with the result that Indigenous children now have poorer oral health than non-Indigenous children.3

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  • Kaye F Roberts-Thomson1
  • A John Spencer2
  • Lisa M Jamieson1

  • 1 Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA.
  • 2 Dental Statistics and Research Unit, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA.


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  • 3. Davies MJ, Spencer AJ, Westwater A, Simmons B. Dental caries among Australian Aboriginal, non-Aboriginal Australian-born, and overseas-born children. Bull World Health Organ 1997; 75: 197-203.
  • 4. Brennan DS, Roberts-Thomson KF, Spencer AJ. Oral health of Indigenous adult public dental patients in Australia. Aust Dent J 2007; 52: 322-328.
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  • 7. Slade GD, Spencer AJ, Roberts-Thomson KF, editors. Australia’s dental generations: the National Survey of Adult Oral Health 2004–06. Canberra: Dental Statistics and Research Unit, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2007. (AIHW Cat. No. DEN 165; Dental Statistics and Research Series No. 34.) http://www.arcpoh.adelaide.edu.au/project/distribution/nsaoh_pdf%20files/nsaoh_report.pdf (accessed Apr 2008).
  • 8. Richards W, Ameen J, Coll AM, Higgs G. Reasons for tooth extraction in four general dental practices in South Wales. Br Dent J 2005; 198: 275-278.
  • 9. Taylor GW, Borgnakke WS. Periodontal disease: associations with diabetes, glycemic control and complications. Oral Dis 2008; 14: 191-203.

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