Rotten truth about our nation’s teeth
THREE million adult Australians are living with fewer than 21 of their 32 teeth as a sugar addiction crisis takes hold of the nation.
The Australian Dental Association is battling to stop the problem escalating as 16 per cent of the adult population have only a handful of teeth left in their mouths due to extreme rotting.
The numbers will come as a shock to the majority of Australians who consume more than double the recommended daily intake of sugar.
"Australians should stick to six teaspoons of added sugars per day. Data shows that the average intake is 14 per day," Aloysa Hourigan from Nutrition Australia said.
The extreme levels of hidden sugars in popular foods is eating away at the nation's teeth. Mum Michelle Champness, admits her "embarrassing" smile was the result of sugar overload.
The Brisbane woman was so ashamed she did not smile for a decade and in her 30s was left with only 13 teeth.
Dental prosthetist Martin Dunn sees the end result of poor dental care.
"While a staggering 42 per cent of all children experience tooth decay and a third of adults have untreated decay, sadly, most won't visit a dentist unless they are in pain. Most issues are preventable if annual checks are in place. We need to change the culture of people being afraid to see their dental professional," he said.
Despite considerable advancements in dental technology and techniques, 85 per cent of Australians fear the dentist, Mr Martin says.
Ms Champness says excess drinking of a sickly sweet cocktail called Illusion - a vodka drink with orange juice and melon impacted her dental health. "In my 20s, I worked in holiday resorts and there was a lot of partying. I would drink and then go to bed without worrying about brushing. My teeth really took a bashing. By 25, all my teeth had fillings," she said.
Over the years, Ms Champness would enjoy chocolate and soft drinks, but was fearful of going to the dentist.
At 42, Ms Champness is happy to smile having replaced her broken teeth with denture implants.
"The $20,000 spent on my smile was worth it," she said.
TEASPOONS OF SUGAR HIDDEN IN POPULAR FOODS
Low-fat yoghurt - 12
Dollop barbecue sauce - 3
Flavoured coffee 100g - 25
Can of baked beans - 5
Granola 100g - 6
Can of Coke - 9
Can of soup - 4