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                    [post_date] => 2016-04-11 16:41:26
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                    [post_content] => P1010247

 

Australia’s dentists have mauled what they fear is a looming shutdown of the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS), warning the program’s closure “will be the biggest setback for oral health in a generation.”

Peak body the Australian Dental Association has gone on the attack over uncertainty surrounding the scheme’s future funding in the run-up to the May 3rd Federal Budget, cautioning any rollback will come just as the subsidy program is starting to have an impact.

The CDBS is targeted at around 3.4 million children from lower income backgrounds and provides funding for families of $1,000 in dental treatment every two years.

Its core purpose is to get kids whose parents would otherwise struggle to pay a dentist’s bill turning-up to surgeries to get dental problems, especially decay and cavities, treated much earlier and before they develop into major issues that can cost thousands of dollars to fix.

However with the scheme’s take-up initially lower than estimated, there are fears the cash will be snatched back and repurposed, leading to long terms negative consequences.

As Australian kids gulp down big volumes high sugar soft drinks, dentists say cutting the CDBS isn’t just inviting a disaster, it bucks a wider international health policy push to control excess sugar consumption by using taxes to send a price signal.

“Australia is one of the top 10 countries for high levels of per capita consumption of soft drink where a third of Australians drink a can a day and almost half of children (47 per cent) aged between two and 16 years, drink sugar-sweetened beverages each day. This means that if such habits continue, Australians stand to develop a multitude of health problems in the future,” the ADA said in its statement.

“In spite of the increasing trend of government to support public health, the Australian Government is rushing to get some election year Budget savings by planning to end the Child Dental Benefits Schedule.”

One challenge the Child Dental Benefits Schedule has encountered is that although the program is hitting its mark in terms of targeting, take-up remains lower than estimated thanks to a combination of under-marketing and poor awareness of how to access the scheme.

Dentists say they want a voucher system introduced to replace the present standard form letter from Medicare so that people better understand that they’re entitled to free treatment.

While a voucher system is potentially more expensive to devise, deliver and administer than present bulk billing arrangements, many believe it would be worth implementing to maximise take-up.

A real risk for schemes and programs that underspend is that sooner or later Treasury and the government’s bean counters will seek to claw back the cash and put it to work elsewhere—precisely what the ADA is trying to avoid.

It is understood Health a primary concern of Minister Sussan Ley’s office is that uptake of the CDBS has only been around 30 per cent of eligible recipients.

While the Health Minister is certainly talking-up the long term benefits of early dental intervention, any conspicuous commitment to retaining the CDBS appears to have been shoved under the Budget cone of silence.

“The Commonwealth has a responsibility to ensure every dollar it invests in dental services delivers the best health outcomes possible,” a spokesman for Ms Ley said.

“We also know that tackling dental health issues early is vital and can alleviate more significant problems and expense later in life. The Turnbull Government continues to work on its previously announced dental health reforms, with more details expected in coming weeks.”

However Labor’s Shadow health Minister, Catherine King, is accusing the Turnbull government of purposefully burying the scheme she says Labor first put in place.

“The government's own report confirms Labor's dental scheme is a success,” Ms King told Government News.

“It shows the scheme has been providing dental devices to the kids who need it most but the Turnbull government is deliberately hiding this, denying millions of kids the chance to get their teeth fixed.”

One obvious policy option both major parties will be cautiously observing is the rollout of taxes and levies on sugary drinks overseas to combat obesity and diabetes – a far tougher public policy sell in a sugar exporting economy like Australia.

Dentists, who frequently go into bat against sugar marketers, are happy to point out how domestic policy contrasts and link it back to the kids’ dental program.

“While the United Kingdom is protecting oral health by announcing its sugar tax, the Australian Government instead plans to kill the Child Dental Benefits Schedule,” the Dental Association said.

It argues that in the two years the scheme has been operating it’s been hitting the mark.

“In just over the two years of the CDBS’ operation, children from low income families have benefited from provision of more than 9.7 million dental treatments; services which they could not otherwise have been able to access,” the Dental Association said.

“No government can legitimately claim it cares about Australian children’s oral health if it denies them dental care because of the lack of means.”
                    [post_title] => Pulling kids dental scheme a kick in the teeth: Dentists
                    [post_excerpt] => Mistake of a generation.
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                    [post_content] => Sweet Smiles

This article first appeared in the October/November 2014 edition of Government News.

Serious and expensive oral and general health consequences are just part of the taxpayer subsidised fallout from loose regulations on pushing junk food to kids. Australian Dental Association President Dr Karin Alexander goes for a check-up.

Tooth loss due to caries (dental decay), non-carious tooth loss and subsequent replacement of failing restorations has been and is the greatest proportion of a dentist’s work.

While water fluoridation across most of Australia has had significant impact on improving oral health, by itself, it is not enough.  As the major cause of decay and non-carious tooth loss is preventable, public oral health policy must address its causative factors – poor diet.

The role of dietary carbohydrates in the causation of dental caries is well documented. The caries process involves the uptake of carbohydrates by bacteria in dental plaque to produce acids. These acids cause the pH of dental plaque to fall below the critical level leading to demineralisation of tooth structure and subsequently dental caries in susceptible individuals.

The form and frequency of sugar intake are significant factors in causing caries. Consumption of foods that combine simple carbohydrates and food acid can be particularly destructive to teeth. Not only does diet have an impact on oral health, it plays a significant role in health issues such as obesity and cancer. Nearly one in four Australian children is overweight or obese.

Causes of non-carious tooth structure loss include the exposure to acid from the consumption of soft drinks, sport drinks, fruit and fruit juices.

Guardrails for influencing children

A key preventive public measure would be better government regulation of food industry advertising.

According to ‘the Parent’s Jury’, an initiative of Cancer Council Australia, Diabetes Australia-Vic, The Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society, Victoria Health, and YMCA –Victoria:
  • Australian children watch 2-3 hours of television a day, with the majority on commercial TV stations.
  • Fast food and confectionery are the two most common categories of food advertisements shown during children’s viewing times.
  • Food advertising uses attention grabbing and persuasive promotional techniques such as endorsements by characters and celebrities, ‘premium offers’, visuals, jingles and claims which can misrepresent the true nutritional value of the food.
  • Children are a key target audience for food manufacturers, as there are proportionally more advertisements for unhealthy food during TV shows that are most popular with children.
  • Current regulations generally apply to advertisements screened during TV shows rated for children and pre-schoolers. The peak viewing period for children under 14 years old is 5-9pm when up to 500,000 children watch TV, and when unhealthy food and drink advertisements are most frequent.
  • Advertising influences children’s food preferences which undermine parent’s efforts to provide their children with a healthy diet.
  • The balance of advertisements for healthy and unhealthy food groups is well out of proportion according to healthy eating guidelines.
Currently marketing to children in Australia is governed by a mix of statutory regulations, and regulations that are jointly administered by the television, advertising and food industries. This is a mix of government regulation and voluntary self-regulation. The regulatory system for food and drink marketing to children is complex and does not adequately protect them from the large amount of predatory food and drink marketing. Currently, the only legally enforceable statutory regulations around TV advertising to children are the Children’s Television Standards (Standards). The Standards are administered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA); however the provisions apply only to advertisements that are screened immediately before, after and during programs rated for children and for pre-schoolers.  ACMA does not allow companies to advertise unhealthy food to children from 7am to 8.30am and 4pm to 8.30pm on Monday to Friday, or 7am to 8.30pm on weekends. The problem is that most children under 14 years of age watch TV shows that are not rated C (for children) and P (for pre-schoolers). This means that at the times of day when the largest number of children watch TV, the advertising that airs at those times is not regulated by the Standards. Codes of behaviour In addition to the Standards, there are various other codes governing advertising to children. These codes are self-regulatory in nature, and developed and administered by the television, food and advertising industries. The Cancer Council (NSW) has been trying to influence government since 2009 with no substantive changes and is now demanding government regulate food industry advertising. The Cancer Council (NSW) studied 1,733 food advertisements aired on commercial television between 6am and 9pm during a two week period in 2011. The study found that four out of ten foods that met the food companies’ definition of healthy failed the Food Safety Australia and New Zealand nutrient test. The Cancer Council (NSW) declared that these results “reaffirm that the current self-regulatory codes do not work.” Many food companies adhere to a voluntary system, the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative, under which they determine their own nutrition criteria to decide which foods are appropriate to market to children.  Companies can set their criteria low enough to allow junk food to be advertised to children.  This could be said to be putting the fox in guard of the henhouse. Studies investigating self-regulation have shown self-regulatory codes are limited in scope and allow continued advertising of unhealthy foods at times when a large number of children are watching television. Mandatory regulations according to government standards would be much more effective at reducing the advertising of sugary and fatty foods than self-regulation. The common ground and major factor in preventing these general health and oral health issues is diet control. While individual responsibility and education definitely play a role in informing health diets, industry and marketers too should be required to fulfil their responsibilities. Better Protection To protect children from unhealthy food marketing, the Cancer Council has made seven policy recommendations to government to reform food marketing regulations. These recommendations involve developing a specific food marketing policy framework and implementing this via statutory regulation. Underpinning these recommendations is the public policy principle that children deserve to be protected from the potential harms of food marketing and parents deserve to raise their children in an environment that is conducive to the development of healthy eating practices. Despite all of the proven research, initiatives and hard work of these organisations there is still no adequate government regulation. Why invest in dental schemes to give children access to treatment if measures are not being taken to prevent the diseases from occurring in the first place? At the Commonwealth level, the Child Dental Benefits Scheme (CDBS) has to date seen considerable take-up. From January – June 2014, the CDBS has provided more than 1.9 million dental services to children at a cost of over $124 million. While the CDBS seeks to deliver dental care to needy children, it does not deliver as effectively as it could. For example, the CDBS range of preventive services does not include oral hygiene instruction and dietary advice, both of which play a critical role in prevention. This gap in the CDBS fails to see the opportunities identified by the former Health Workforce Australia’s comprehensive supply and demand study of the oral health workforce – ‘Health Workforce 2025 – Oral Health’. This yet to be published report states that there is an oversupply of the dental workforce that will continue until 2025. If the CDBS was extended to ensure full and comprehensive treatment, eligible children will be able to receive the complete care they need by a ready and already available dental workforce. Other than looking at improving Australians’ oral health through government schemes for dental services and measures that support the dental workforce, food marketing is another area of public policy where action must be taken. The Australian Dental Association (ADA)’s Policy Statement on Community Oral Health Promotion: Diet and Nutrition acknowledges the role of dietary carbohydrates in the causation of dental caries. The ADA’s Policy Statements can be found at http://www.ada.org.au/about/policies.aspx. Dietary carbohydrates impact on obesity, oral health and general health. This begs the question: when will government recognise and act to promote beneficial dietary behaviour? The Australian Dental Association is an organisation of dentists which aims for the encouragement of good public health and the promotion of the art and science of dentistry. [post_title] => Dentists bitten by food marketing [post_excerpt] => Bad diet and tooth decay. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dentists-bitten-food-marketing [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-01-09 12:15:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-01-09 01:15:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=17777 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 16897 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2014-10-29 10:55:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-10-28 23:55:39 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_16900" align="alignnone" width="614"] Dentists are fighting tooth and nail against sugary Halloween treats.[/caption] Be afraid, be very afraid. Australian dentists are joining the ranks of the undead this Halloween to spook parents into giving trick-or-treaters apples and cheap toys, rather than lollies. The Australian Dental Association (ADA) has issued a stern warning that tooth decay and cavities are the twin evils lurking beneath the sugar frenzy of modern day Halloween. Professor David Manton, Vice Chair of the ADA’s Oral Health Committee, cautioned parents that children who had tooth decay early were at risk of having more dental problems later in life. Prof Manton said that regular sugary drinks and food were the number one cause of tooth decay and parents should encourage kids to divert their sugar-munching energies into playing games. “The ADA understands that sugary treats play a role on occasions such as Halloween, however, we encourage that sugary treats be consumed only in moderation. "Families should consider having a sugar break the week before and the week after, just to offset the sugar hits that will come on Halloween”, Prof Manton said. To get its anti-sugar message across, the ADA has created the shadowy figure of the Sugar Bandit, an enigmatic, masked maverick who tempts little kids with sweet treats. But pull off that mask and knock off that stetson and underneath could lie the kindly, smiling face of a grandparent; a benevolent aunt or a feeder parent storing up dental diseases for their little treasures later on in life. An ADA Halloween survival guide advises parents to set limits on sugary treats, stop children from grazing on sweets over many hours and to make sure children clean their teeth thoroughly before bed-time. The dentists are also keen to explode the myth of ‘healthy’ snacks that, on closer inspection of nutritional information, are just as bad for teeth. This list of shame includes fruit juice, dried fruit, crackers, muesli bars, flavoured popcorn, biscuits, sweetened yoghurt, fruit bars and banana bread. Research shows that more than half of all six-year-olds have some decay in their baby teeth and by the time children are 12 almost half have decay in their permanent teeth. “This Halloween children can still have their treats and lots of fun, provided we teach them the right healthy eating tricks,” Prof Manton said. Halloween hasn’t always been about dressing your children up as ghosts and witches and parading them around the streets collecting lollipops, fizzy worms and chewy fruit bugs. Dentists will be hoping to wind back modern trick-or-treating to its relatively healthier pagan and Christian beginnings and away from post-war 1950s America, when war-time sugar rationing was abandoned and confectionary companies went into marketing overdrive. Halloween has its roots in the ancient, pagan Celtic festival of Samhain around 2,000 years ago in Ireland, the UK and northern France, when people would light bonfires and make edible offerings to honour the dead, who they believed came back to earth on Samhain. There are various theories about the origins of trick-or-treating. One is that the practice dates back to these ancient celebrations, where people disguised themselves in animal skins to drive away the spirit visitors. In Medieval times, people started dressing as ghosts and demons and performed in exchange for food and drink. This was called mumming. In 1000AD the Church declared All Soul’s Day on November 2, as a day to honour the dead after Christianity spread to Celtic lands. English celebrations were similar to Samhain, with bonfires and masquerades. On All Soul's Day, poor people would visit the houses of wealthier families, who would give them pastries called soul cakes (not approved by the ADA, who list baked goods as another nasty) in exchange for a promise to pray for the souls of the family’s dead relatives. This was called souling and was later taken up by children who would go from door to door asking for gifts such as food, money and ale (unlikely, too, that the ADA would support giving ale to minors). Scotland and Ireland had their version of trick-or-treating: guising, where people dressed up in costumes and would visit households. In return for a ‘trick’, which could be a joke, poem or song, they would be given fruit, nuts or coins - a much healthier option, although ADA warnings on dried fruit masquerading as a 'healthy' snack should be heeded. [post_title] => Trick or tooth decay: dentists' Halloween witch-hunt [post_excerpt] => Dentists unload on sugary Halloween treats. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => trick-tooth-decay-dentists-halloween-witch-hunt [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-10-31 01:43:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-10-30 14:43:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=16897 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 16812 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2014-10-23 21:03:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-10-23 10:03:20 [post_content] => Toothbrushes Dentists have sunk their teeth into the slow and frustrated progress of Australia’s attempt to build a national eHealth system, telling the federal government the scheme needs to be switched to an ‘opt-out’ model and have a name change if participation is to increase. A bulletin issued by the Australian Dental Association following consultations with the peak body over the future of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) says rather than calling the electronic document a “health record” it should be called a “health summary” to avoid mix-ups. “The term 'Record’ risks being confusing for health practitioners and patients alike, the bulletin said. “It is a summary and not a complete record and so the title “My Health Summary” is more appropriate.” Dentists also want more done to let people know about the benefits of eHealth which hasn’t exactly been an easy sell to date. The oral health industry also wants a bite of any new funding that may flow. “The Australian Government must provide adequate resources and incentives for all users including health practitioners (not just medical GPs) to be able to explain the benefits of this to patients and to allay concerns about privacy,” the ADA said. “Such work must be alongside a national information and educational campaign conducted by the Australian Government.” Other recommendations to the government include better support for “tertiary education and training institutions” to teach graduating health practitioners how to use the eHealth system so they can use it immediately upon entering the workforce. Similarly, dentists also want the government to “roll out other features such as ePrescriptions” and to use “Primary Health Networks” to “provide face to face training for health practitioners on how to use the MyHR and other aspects of eHealth.” Oral-Health, Australian-Dental-Association, PCEHR, AMA, Australian-Medical-Association, eHealth, NeHTA, Gonski, Peter-Dutton Dentists want opt-out eHealth record Review of PCEHR drilled over functionality, training Dentists have sunk their teeth into the slow and frustrated progress of Australia’s attempt to build a national eHealth system, telling the federal government the scheme needs to be switched to an ‘opt-out’ model and have a name change if participation is to increase. A bulletin issued by the Australian Dental Association following consultations with the peak body over the future of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) says rather than calling the electronic document a “health record” it should be called a “health summary” to avoid mix-ups. https://gallery.mailchimp.com/f48e3ab7541bf55cdb52793b6/files/ndu_october_2014.pdf “The term 'Record’ risks being confusing for health practitioners and patients alike, the bulletin said. “It is a summary and not a complete record and so the title “My Health Summary” is more appropriate.” Dentists also want more done to let people know about the benefits of eHealth which hasn’t exactly been an easy sell to date. The oral health industry also wants a bite of any new funding that may flow. “The Australian Government must provide adequate resources and incentives for all users including health practitioners (not just medical GPs) to be able to explain the benefits of this to patients and to allay concerns about privacy,” the ADA said. “Such work must be alongside a national information and educational campaign conducted by the Australian Government.” Other recommendations to the government include better support for “tertiary education and training institutions” to teach graduating health practitioners how to use the eHealth system so they can use it immediately upon entering the workforce. Similarly, dentists also want the government to “roll out other features such as ePrescriptions” and to use “Primary Health Networks” to “provide face to face training for health practitioners on how to use the MyHR and other aspects of eHealth.” [post_title] => Dentists want 'opt-out' eHealth record [post_excerpt] => Review of PCEHR drilled over functionality, training. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dentists-want-opt-ehealth-record [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-10-23 22:08:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-10-23 11:08:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=16812 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 15830 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2014-07-31 22:44:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-07-31 12:44:09 [post_content] => Teeth Australia’s widespread fluoridation of drinking water to mitigate tooth decay is being put in the reclining chair for regular a check-up, as Australia’s foremost health experts seek to drill into the latest evidence on its effectiveness. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) this week called for public submissions on evidence regarding the efficacy of the practice as part of a wider, ongoing formal assessment about whether the decades-long scheme is bringing the desired benefits. The call for published scientific articles is the first step in what the NHMRC says is “a comprehensive review process” to make sure the advice it provides “is based on the most current evidence.” The issue of fortifying town drinking water supplies has risen sharply in prominence over the last few years after anti-fluoridation groups in some regional communities agitated strongly for the removal of the compound from town water supplies in a number of local government areas. However dentists have strongly rejected the calls for the removal of fluoride from drinking water, sticking by its efficacy in mitigating decay and pointing to the high cost of poor oral health and even surgical interventions to remove entire sets of rotten teeth from children. The issue of water fluoridation is a tricky one for state and local governments to navigate in Australia. Outside metropolitan areas, it is usually councils responsible for adding the compound to water supplies. The election of the Campbell Newman government in Queensland also conspicuously left it to councils to determine whether or not they would fluoridate drinking water rather than using state government powers to stipulate a requirement. Several local governments are across the states are also still to add fluoride to town water, often because of funding constraints or ageing infrastructure. Amid the ongoing debate, Australia’s peak health research body is looking for the latest clinical evidence. “Current NHMRC advice recommends that water be fluoridated at the level of 0.6 to 1.1 mg/L, which balances the benefits of reduced tooth decay with the occurrence of dental mottling (fluorosis),” the NHMRC said in a statement “This call for published scientific articles is the first step in a comprehensive review process to ensure that NHMRC’s advice is based on the most current evidence.” The reference to the “most current evidence” is important because it signifies that the review will be a scan for recent empirical updates rather than a wholesale review of fluoridation open to wider public submissions. In some local government areas, anti-fluoridation activists have sought – with varying degrees of success - to persuade councillors to push for the elimination of the practice on the basis that fluoride is toxic, even in very small amounts. Following the call for papers, the NHMRC expects evidence evaluation to be completed by mid-2015, with a public consultation on a draft information Paper slated for mid to late 2015. It estimates that a final Information Paper will be issued by mid 2016. [post_title] => Official check-up for Australian water fluoridation [post_excerpt] => Comprehensive review process into effectiveness [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => official-check-australian-water-fluoridation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-08-01 12:03:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-08-01 02:03:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=15830 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 24 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7341 [post_author] => 655 [post_date] => 2014-01-13 10:41:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-01-13 10:41:31 [post_content] => 03-15: At the Dentist By Dr Karin Alexander* In the 1930s, American scientists and public health researchers made a simple, but profoundly important discovery. People living in towns with around one part per million of fluoride found naturally in their drinking water had much less tooth decay that people whose drinking water contained lower levels of fluoride. All water supplies contain fluoride, but the levels can vary significantly. At the time, tooth decay in Western countries was a greater public health problem than today, and most people wore false teeth from early adulthood. After extensive research, a trial of artificial community water fluoridation began in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1945. The massive decay rates of the time plummeted, and trials in other parts of America and Canada soon followed. Over the next few decades, water fluoridation became widely accepted throughout the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Brazil and many other countries around the world. In Australia, the first fluoridated towns were Beaconsfield in Tasmania (site of the 2006 mine collapse) in 1953 and Yass in New South Wales in 1956. Most Australian states and territories quickly recognized the huge health, financial and social benefits of water fluoridation, and legislation ensured that most towns and cities were fluoridated by the 1960s and 70s. The exception was in Queensland, where the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1963 considered fluoridation to be a water treatment issue rather than a health issue. Responsibility for fluoridation decision making was placed solely in the hands of local councils. By 2008, the only Queensland towns fluoridating their water supplies were Townsville, Moranbah, Mareeba and Dalby. This represented less than 5 per cent of Queenslanders, compared with around 80-90 per cent of Australians in other states and territories. Decades without widespread water fluoridation had a dramatic effect on dental health in Queensland. Australian Child Dental Health Surveys have been conducted every year or two since the 1980s. Invariably they show Queensland children experiencing more tooth decay than children from other states. However, this underestimates the positive effect of water fluoridation, since not all children from other states drink fluoridated water, and many Queensland children will have come from interstate, and will have grown up drinking fluoridated water. To address this issue, the 2002 Australian Child Dental Health Survey examined more than 136,000 children across Australia, and specifically recorded whether they drank fluoridated water or not. The Survey found that no matter which state or territory children came from, what age group they were, whether they were rich or poor or in between, whether they lived in the capital city or regionally or remotely, children who drank fluoridated water had much less tooth decay than children who didn't. These findings were confirmed by a major 2012 review paper which analysed all studies published worldwide from 1990-2010, in any language, examining the effects of water fluoridation. The authors found 59 studies from 10 countries, including thirteen from Australia. Without exception, every one of these studies showed a significant reduction in tooth decay, with most showing reductions of around 25-50 per cent. More than kids stuff Water fluoridation is not just for children. Another recently published study was based on data collected from the National Survey of Adult Oral Health 2004-06. Dental examinations of 5,505 adults from around Australia found significantly less decay experience in adults drinking fluoridated water. These benefits were also seen in adults who had grown up prior to the introduction of fluoride toothpaste and fluoridated water. Greater benefits were shown for adults who had been drinking fluoridated water for longer. It is important to note that measured reductions in tooth decay experience may actually underestimate the effect of water fluoridation. Fillings have a limited life span, and are regularly replaced or repaired. Preventing one permanent tooth cavity in a child may prevent not just one cavity, but a whole lifetime of treatment on that tooth, with each successive treatment becoming larger, more complex and more expensive. Widespread water fluoridation in Queensland was finally mandated by the Bligh State Government in 2008, with the State Government paying capital costs and local councils all ongoing costs. Inexplicably the current Queensland Government amended this legislation in 2012 and once again placed responsibility for fluoridation decision making in the hands of local councils. Many councils, including those from major regional centres such as Cairns, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Maryborough, Hervey Bay and Mount Isa, opted out of fluoridation. Some buckled under the pressure of scaremongering claims from anti-fluoride lobby groups, and others refused to pay the ongoing costs. The Australian Dental Association recognizes the right of State Governments to legislate as they see fit, but the public health of Queenslanders was clearly not considered in the passing of the amendments, and no health authorities were consulted during the legislative process. The amended legislation required that councils make decisions on water fluoridation "in the best interests of their communities", but are the best interests of people from Cairns, Rockhampton and Bundaberg any different to the best interests of people from Brisbane, Townsville, Toowoomba and the majority of councils which retained water fluoridation? Bigger responsibilities Communities and their elected representatives should always be involved in a consultation process whenever water fluoridation or any other important measures are planned, but the greatest public health and scientific expertise lies at State and Federal levels of government. Responsibility for decision making on water fluoridation and other complex public health matters should therefore also rest at these levels. Public health policy in Australia must be driven by proven science and the best interests of Australians, not misinformation and conspiracy theory web sites. The current National Oral Health Plan urges fluoridation of water supplies in all towns with populations over 1,000, and was signed by all federal, state and territory Health Ministers in 2004. Failure to take action on a serious public health problem when a safe, cheap and proven preventive measure is available is inexcusable. Many northern NSW councils have yet to fluoridate their water supplies, and in widely publicised moves, Lismore City Council recently voted against its introduction, then rescinded that motion. Children in northern NSW are reported to have more than double the number cavities of children in other parts of the state, and NSW Health confirmed that they were almost twice as likely to be hospitalised for dental extractions. Directly or indirectly, we all pay dearly for the level of dental disease in our communities, and it is in all our interests to reduce health, financial and social costs of that disease. Water fluoridation and fluoride toothpaste have contributed to a dramatic reduction in tooth decay in Australian children, but decay levels have actually been rising again since the mid-1990s. By the age of 6, more than half of Australian children have already suffered tooth decay. By the age of 8, this rises to more than two thirds. Tooth decay is often painful, and its treatment is difficult, distressing and expensive. Prevention is better than a cure. Some people are opposed to water fluoridation, just as some people are opposed to vaccinations. Anti-fluoride lobby groups clutch at every possible straw in their attempts to deprive Australians of water fluoridation, but their arguments are invariably based on ignorance and the fear factor. Most are centred on what they claim are health and ethical concerns. Water fluoridation is probably the most widely studied public health measure of all time. Hundreds of studies over many decades have assessed possible associations between water fluoridation and a wide range of health conditions, and the scientific evidence in favour of water fluoridation is now overwhelming. The evidence is in Systematic reviews from Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council and health authorities around the world consistently find that water fluoridation does not cause harmful health effects. In 2001, the World Health Organization described water fluoridation as "…the most effective public health measure for the prevention of dental decay", later declaring that "universal access to fluoride for dental health is a part of the basic human right to health". The US-based Centers for Disease Control has ranked water fluoridation alongside control of infectious diseases and the decline in deaths from heart disease and strokes as one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century. Within Australia, water fluoridation is endorsed by no less than the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Medical Association, Australian Dental Association, Australian Academy of Science, Australian Public Health Association, and all federal, state and territory health departments. Endorsement of water fluoridation from dentists, doctors and other health professional groups is based on a strong commitment to ethical practice and a rigorous scientific peer review process. Decisions and recommendations are made in the interests of patients and the community. And support for water fluoridation within Australia is not limited to major health authorities. After a detailed analysis of water fluoridation in 2007, the independent and highly respected Choice magazine concluded that "There's now solid scientific evidence that fluoride added to drinking water helps to protect your teeth from decay". Choice pointedly added that "The claims of those who oppose fluoridation are often based on out-dated information, questionable research and selectively picking studies that support their case". What about the shrill accusations that water fluoridation is unethical, and a "mass medication"? Emotive words indeed, and they raise the unpleasant spectacle of Big Brother. But fluoride is a substance already found naturally in water, plants, rocks, soil and food. No governments, legal systems or health authorities anywhere in Australia have ever described water fluoridation as a medication or drug. In 2006, the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Department of Health and Ageing, and the New Zealand Ministry of Health specifically described fluoride as a nutrient, adding that "Because of its role in the prevention of dental caries (tooth decay), fluoride has been classified as essential to human health". The great Australian bite All decisions at all levels of government will be opposed by some, but governments have a responsibility to make decisions for the greater public good. Examples in public health include mandatory seat belts in cars, smoking restrictions, blood alcohol laws, the chlorination of drinking water to prevent water-borne illnesses and the mandatory addition of folic acid, thiamine and iodized salt to all bread products in Australia to prevent spina bifida, nerve damage, goitre and the mental retardation associated with iodine deficiency. Are these "mass medication" or unethical breaches of liberty? Of course not. Our communities expect governments to make such decisions, and readily accept these and water fluoridation as simple, sensible, and highly effective public health measures. Water fluoridation can be a difficult political issue. Those working in federal, state, and local governments know well the passion and the fury of the anti-fluoride lobby. The large majority of letters, e-mails and phone calls to elected representatives are opposed to water fluoridation, but most come from other towns and other states, even other countries! On-line polls and voluntary referendums and mail-outs attract the vehemently opposed rather than the silent majority who wonder what all the fuss is about. Despite these setbacks, reputable public opinion surveys consistently show that a high proportion of Australians recognize the benefits of water fluoridation and want their drinking water to be fluoridated. The minority who disagree still have the options of drinking tank water, filtered water or bottled water, but they cannot be allowed to deprive the majority of Australians of a proven health measure. In his 1956 Pulitzer Prize winning book Profiles in Courage, the future US President John F. Kennedy acknowledged the "...pressure groups and letter writers (who) represent only a small percentage of the voters" and cautioned that their views cannot be ignored. But after weighing up competing views, Kennedy concluded by reserving his highest praise for public officials who could rise above competing interests - those willing to compromise on issues, but not on principles. Few principles are more important than public health. Dr Karin Alexander is the Federal President of the Australian Dental Association Inc. 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By Julian Bajkowski

Australia’s official body for dentists has taken a bite out of Australia’s main political parties over what it claims is a “deafening silence” over local governments controversially removing fluoride from town water supplies against the interests of public health.

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) is warning that taxpayers and the federally funded Child Dental Benefits Scheme will soon have to pick-up the big tab for an increase in tooth decay that will stem from councils stopping fluoridation unless action is taken.

The dentists say no matter who wins the election, the anti-fluoridation rot needs to stop quickly as more children succumb to serious decay.

“The Child Dental Benefits Scheme, which has bipartisan support, will be called on to fund more fillings or extractions if there is no longer support for fluoride,” said Dr Karin Alexander, federal president of the ADA.

“Does the future Federal Government really want to create further dental problems that will cost more to fix later?”

The dentist’s hard word on Canberra comes after Lismore Shire Council and Byron Shire Councils in New South Wales passed votes that would allow an end to fluoridation of water.

The issue is also burning in Queensland where an increasing number of councils – now more than 10 - have voted to stop fluoridation after the Campbell Newman government allowed local governments to opt out of what had previously been a requirement.

Dentists now want whoever gains power in Canberra to show firm leadership on the issue by pressing state governments in New South Wales and Queensland to stand up to anti-fluoride campaigners which most public health advocates believe are pushing arguments that are not well grounded in science.

“The Federal Government should not allow local councils to be swayed by fringe groups who peddle fear, innuendo and conspiracy theories to remove fluoride or discontinue its use from water supplies,” Dr Alexander said.

“We understand that the Federal Government does not have direct power over water supplies. However, that does not mean the future Federal Government has the right to stand idly by while Queensland and NSW divest their responsibility to public health.”

A number of public health advocates are also turning up the heat on councils and state governments to check the influence of anti-treatment campaigners, citing increasing dental problems among young people.

Fairfax Media this month cited figures from the NSW Department of Health that showed “hospital admissions for the removal or restoration of teeth among children aged up to four in the Northern NSW Local Health District was 563.5 per 100,000 children a year - about 93 children” compared to an “average across NSW [of] 331.1 per 100,000.”

The campaign by anti-fluoridation groups has also highlighted tensions within the NSW Cabinet after Health Minister Jillian Skinner reportedly said that a discussion paper, with public input, on whether the state should take over control of water fluoridation.

However NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell later batted away any notion of Macquarie Street wresting control of fluoridation by saying it was a matter for councils to decide.

But even though the Premier is eschewing any formal intervention, Mr O’Farrell went on to blast Lismore Council’s vote against fluoridation as a “stupid decision” and suggested it could soon be reversed.

According to the Oral Health Committee of the ADA, the only NSW councils that are now fluoridating their water supplies are:

Ballina, Boorowa, Brewarrina, Byron, Cabonne, Carrathool, Lismore, Liverpool Plains (Gunnedah), Murrumbidgee, Narrabri, Narrandera, Narromine, Oberon, Rous County Council, Lismore, Richmond Valley, Upper Hunter, Wakool, Warren and Wentworth..

The ADA noted that “Kempsey is only partly fluoridated, but will soon increase its fluoridation program” while “Gwydir and Walgett are not currently fluoridated, but should commence very soon.”

Councils in Queensland that that ADA says were fluoridating but have now stopped since the Campbell Newman LNP government passed legislation to allow them to opt out are Cairns, Cherbourg, Doomadgee, North Burnett (Gayndah, Monto, Mundubbera), Rockhampton, South Burnett (Nanango, Murgon) and Wide Bay (Maryborough, Hervey Bay).

The ADA lists councils that were scheduled to fluoridate under the 2008 mandatory legislation, but have since decided to not to proceed as: Atherton Tablelands, Bundaberg, Cassowary Coast (Innisfail), Cloncurry, numerous water sources in the Toowoomba area, Whitsunday (Bowen, Proserpine), Balonne (St George), Barcaldine, Blackall, Murweh (Charleville), Paroo (Cunnamulla), Mount Isa.

But it’s not a one size fits all approach.

“There are often legitimate reasons why councils don't fluoridate their water supplies,” the ADA said.

“They may already have naturally occurring fluoride in the water at about the right level, fluoridation may be impractical and costly because the town water comes from a bore and isn't treated,” thye ADA said.

“Sometimes the town is too small, they have difficulty in attracting or retaining trained water treatment plant operators [or] the water tastes terrible and everyone drinks tank water.

“Unfortunately we are not able to identify the specific reasons why each of these towns isn't fluoridated, but in northern NSW the views of the alternative life-stylers are probably an influence.”

It is understood that issue of fluoridation will be among the topics put up for discussion and debated at the annual Local Government NSW Conference in Sydney on 1st October to 3rd October 2013.

[post_title] => Feds bitten by dentists over local government fluoridation failures [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => feds-bitten-by-dentists-over-local-government-fluoridation-failures [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-02-21 11:04:23 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-02-21 00:04:23 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 6 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7096 [post_author] => 655 [post_date] => 2013-07-12 08:50:47 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-07-12 08:50:47 [post_content] =>

By Julian Bajkowski

Victorian councils have been urged to urgently sink their teeth into improving the dental health of their communities after the state’s lead oral health agency revealed it will soon be handing out individual profiles for local government areas.

Dental Health Services Victoria has said it will start distributing individual oral health profiles to 79 councils across the state from mid-July as part of a push to get local governments more involved in helping people take better care of their teeth.

The drive to get councils more proactively involved in oral health at a grass roots community level comes as the health sector tries to promote the kinds of behaviours that reduce tooth decay and gum disease that have been proven to lead to other illnesses.

Dental Health Services Victoria and the Department of Health have also issued a guide to local governments on how to improve oral health and prevent oral disease in the community.

Senior Project Officer at Dental Health Services Victoria, Dr Anil Raichur said the new profiles for councils provided an opportunity to understand health-related behaviours that influenced oral health in their communities.

“We included behaviours that have an impact on oral health such as tobacco use, intake of fruit and vegetables, soft drink consumption, tooth brushing frequency and breastfeeding,” Dr Raichur said.

A key avenue for the dentists to promote better oral health awareness are childcare and community facilities that are a more accessible and friendly way to get the message across than sitting in a dentist’s chair.

The innovative council profiles in Victoria are a stark contrast to the very public battle now raging in Queensland   where moves to let councils decide whether or not to fluoridate town water supplies have been slammed by dentists as stupid and ill-informed.

“The Queensland and now other State Governments’ decision to permit ill-informed local councils to choose to stop fluoridation of water supplies represent a failure to protect the public’s oral health. These local councils seem to be responding to fringe groups’ falsely based scare mongering and are not considering the scientifically well-established benefits of fluoridation,” Australian Dental Association Federal President Dr Karin Alexander said in February.

Charities are also pushing for dental reforms.

The Brotherhood of Saint Lawrence have warned that the direct and indirect costs to the economy of poor dental health sit between $1.3 billion and $2 billion annually.

The Brotherhood estimates that hospital admissions from dental conditions “are the largest category of preventable acute hospital admissions, costing the health system $223 million each year.”

“At least one million work days and at least 600,000 school days are lost each year because of poor dental health costing the economy at least $660 million in lost productivity,” The Brotherhood said in its landmark report: End the Decay: The cost of poor dental health and what should be done about it.

The chief executive CEO of Dental Health Services Victoria, Dr Deborah Cole, said the oral health profiles for would support councils preparing for their Municipal Health and Wellbeing Plans.

“These profiles contain vital information that will assist councils in oral health promotion efforts in their communities,” Dr Cole said.

[post_title] => Dentists drill Victorian councils on decay [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dentists-drill-victorian-councils-on-decay [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-02-21 11:01:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-02-21 00:01:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 8 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23582 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-04-11 16:41:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-04-11 06:41:26 [post_content] => P1010247   Australia’s dentists have mauled what they fear is a looming shutdown of the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS), warning the program’s closure “will be the biggest setback for oral health in a generation.” Peak body the Australian Dental Association has gone on the attack over uncertainty surrounding the scheme’s future funding in the run-up to the May 3rd Federal Budget, cautioning any rollback will come just as the subsidy program is starting to have an impact. The CDBS is targeted at around 3.4 million children from lower income backgrounds and provides funding for families of $1,000 in dental treatment every two years. Its core purpose is to get kids whose parents would otherwise struggle to pay a dentist’s bill turning-up to surgeries to get dental problems, especially decay and cavities, treated much earlier and before they develop into major issues that can cost thousands of dollars to fix. However with the scheme’s take-up initially lower than estimated, there are fears the cash will be snatched back and repurposed, leading to long terms negative consequences. As Australian kids gulp down big volumes high sugar soft drinks, dentists say cutting the CDBS isn’t just inviting a disaster, it bucks a wider international health policy push to control excess sugar consumption by using taxes to send a price signal. “Australia is one of the top 10 countries for high levels of per capita consumption of soft drink where a third of Australians drink a can a day and almost half of children (47 per cent) aged between two and 16 years, drink sugar-sweetened beverages each day. This means that if such habits continue, Australians stand to develop a multitude of health problems in the future,” the ADA said in its statement. “In spite of the increasing trend of government to support public health, the Australian Government is rushing to get some election year Budget savings by planning to end the Child Dental Benefits Schedule.” One challenge the Child Dental Benefits Schedule has encountered is that although the program is hitting its mark in terms of targeting, take-up remains lower than estimated thanks to a combination of under-marketing and poor awareness of how to access the scheme. Dentists say they want a voucher system introduced to replace the present standard form letter from Medicare so that people better understand that they’re entitled to free treatment. While a voucher system is potentially more expensive to devise, deliver and administer than present bulk billing arrangements, many believe it would be worth implementing to maximise take-up. A real risk for schemes and programs that underspend is that sooner or later Treasury and the government’s bean counters will seek to claw back the cash and put it to work elsewhere—precisely what the ADA is trying to avoid. It is understood Health a primary concern of Minister Sussan Ley’s office is that uptake of the CDBS has only been around 30 per cent of eligible recipients. While the Health Minister is certainly talking-up the long term benefits of early dental intervention, any conspicuous commitment to retaining the CDBS appears to have been shoved under the Budget cone of silence. “The Commonwealth has a responsibility to ensure every dollar it invests in dental services delivers the best health outcomes possible,” a spokesman for Ms Ley said. “We also know that tackling dental health issues early is vital and can alleviate more significant problems and expense later in life. The Turnbull Government continues to work on its previously announced dental health reforms, with more details expected in coming weeks.” However Labor’s Shadow health Minister, Catherine King, is accusing the Turnbull government of purposefully burying the scheme she says Labor first put in place. “The government's own report confirms Labor's dental scheme is a success,” Ms King told Government News. “It shows the scheme has been providing dental devices to the kids who need it most but the Turnbull government is deliberately hiding this, denying millions of kids the chance to get their teeth fixed.” One obvious policy option both major parties will be cautiously observing is the rollout of taxes and levies on sugary drinks overseas to combat obesity and diabetes – a far tougher public policy sell in a sugar exporting economy like Australia. Dentists, who frequently go into bat against sugar marketers, are happy to point out how domestic policy contrasts and link it back to the kids’ dental program. “While the United Kingdom is protecting oral health by announcing its sugar tax, the Australian Government instead plans to kill the Child Dental Benefits Schedule,” the Dental Association said. It argues that in the two years the scheme has been operating it’s been hitting the mark. “In just over the two years of the CDBS’ operation, children from low income families have benefited from provision of more than 9.7 million dental treatments; services which they could not otherwise have been able to access,” the Dental Association said. “No government can legitimately claim it cares about Australian children’s oral health if it denies them dental care because of the lack of means.” [post_title] => Pulling kids dental scheme a kick in the teeth: Dentists [post_excerpt] => Mistake of a generation. 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australian-dental-association

australian-dental-association

03-15: At the Dentist

Dentists drill councils over water fluoridation decay

By Dr Karin Alexander* In the 1930s, American scientists and public health researchers made a simple, but profoundly important discovery. People living in towns with around one part per million of fluoride found naturally in their drinking water had much less tooth decay that people whose drinking water contained lower levels of fluoride. All water […]

Feds bitten by dentists over local government fluoridation failures

By Julian Bajkowski Australia’s official body for dentists has taken a bite out of Australia’s main political parties over what it claims is a “deafening silence” over local governments controversially removing fluoride from town water supplies against the interests of public health. The Australian Dental Association (ADA) is warning that taxpayers and the federally funded […]

Dentists drill Victorian councils on decay

By Julian Bajkowski Victorian councils have been urged to urgently sink their teeth into improving the dental health of their communities after the state’s lead oral health agency revealed it will soon be handing out individual profiles for local government areas. Dental Health Services Victoria has said it will start distributing individual oral health profiles […]