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News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin March 2011
23 MARCH 2011 WOMEN'S UNIQUE dental needs overlooked in new National Women's Health Policy 2010 national dental update The Australian Dental Association Inc. (ADA) welcomes the new National Women's Health Policy 2010 (the Policy) but is disappointed that dental health has not been included as one of the priority areas. The Policy, released in late December 2010, has as its main objective the need to ensure women have access to the right healthcare at the right time. The development of the Policy acknowledges that health needs vary across the population. Four priority health issues have been identified: • Prevention of chronic diseases through the control of risk factors; targeting chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, as well as risk factors such as obesity, nutrition, physical inactivity, alcohol and tobacco consumption; • Mental health and wellbeing; targeting anxiety, depression and suicide; • Sexual and reproductive health; targeting access to information and services relating to sexual health, reproductive health, safe sex practices, screening and maternal health; • Healthy ageing; targeting musculo-skeletal conditions, disability and dementia. While the Policy targets chronic diseases caused by nutrition, alcohol and tobacco consumption, the reduction of which will provide dental benefits, a specific focus on dental issues has been omitted from the Policy. "A coordinated approach to preventive healthcare that incorporates dental health is crucial. The ADA believes that prevention must be a priority in any health policy as many dental and oral health problems are preventable. A health policy such as the new National Women's Health Policy 2010 must recognise poor oral health as a health threat alongside risk factors such as smoking, tobacco, and poor nutrition" said ADA President, Dr Shane Fryer. Women have unique dental needs that have been overlooked by this health policy. UNIQUE DENTAL NEEDS OF WOMEN Listed here are just some of the issues unique to the dental needs of women. HORMONE CHANGES Hormone levels can fluctuate during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, breast feeding and menopause resulting in swelling and changes to the gums. Lesions and ulcers in the mouth, dry sockets following extraction of teeth, as well as swollen gums, can sometimes occur during surges in a woman's hormone levels. PERIODONTAL DISEASE Certain forms of periodontal disease are more frequent in women -- especially due to hormonal and genetic differences that arise during pregnancy. The body of evidence linking gum disease and a higher risk of premature births is growing. The association between periodontal diseases and cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death among women in Australia, is also becoming more evident. GINGIVITIS During adolescence fluctuations in hormonal levels can lead to the onset of 'puberty gingivitis' in teenagers. Women can suffer from 'pregnancy gingivitis' which often becomes noticeable in the third trimester. Birth control pills have also been shown to increase the risk of 'hormonal gingivitis'. CHANGES DURING MENOPAUSE Menopause can cause problems in the mouth. The most common are pain, a burning sensation in the oral tissue, changes in taste and dry mouth. CHANGES POST-MENOPAUSE After menopause, there is an increased risk of developing osteoporosis (a condition of reduced bone mass and strength), which can increase the chance of tooth loss. Women of Australia need to be alerted to these matters. Attention to oral hygiene is very important for women and the ADA suggests information about these matters be included in any progressive health policy. Source: National Dental Update, January 2011. The ADA National Dental Update is a monthly publication distributed to politicians and opinion leaders. Other issues can be viewed at www.ada.org.au
ADA News Bulletin February 2011
ADA News Bulletin April 2011