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ADA NSW Board Member and Wagga dentist Dr Kathleen Matthews urges people to get their teeth checked

31 July 2022 
Wagga dentist Dr Kathleen Matthews urges people to get their teeth checked

The Daily Advertiser, Wagga Wagga
Reporter: Vincent Dwyer 

Riverina dental workers and healthcare professionals are encouraging more people to get their pearly whites checked after new data showed a drop in the number of Aussies visiting the dentist.

According to a recent survey commissioned by the Australian Dental Association (ADA), 68 per cent of the 25,000 respondents said they hadn't been to the dentist in the last two years. NSW recorded the second highest number of dentist dodgers with 69 per cent.

Wagga dentist, and ADA NSW board member, Dr Kathleen Matthews said there were several reasons people had avoided the dentist's chair, including lockdowns, and spreading or avoiding being exposed to germs.

Dr Matthews also said dental anxiety was still a reality for many. "We know a significant chunk of the population suffer from it," she said. "The way I would manage it is working with the patient at the pace in which they can manage things."

Dr Matthews said financial challenges for Australians also had a role to play, and that people were still grappling with a healthcare system that doesn't provide funding for dental health.
"Unless you're on a pension or healthcare card in NSW, you're not eligible to go see a dentist and have that treatment funded," she said.

"We're all listening to the news at the moment and hearing how our dollars are buying less. Families will now have to make choices about where they spend their money."
Dr Matthews said Australians generally enjoyed good oral health thanks to access to clean drinking water and dental hygiene products. She said people should embrace these to avoid having to take regular trips to the dentist.

"It's really important that our community knows they've got some great tools at hand," Dr Matthews said. "Drinking water, brushing teeth, and having a diet low on sugar should help keep your mouth healthy.
"It's important to work out if you've got access to some schemes. "Talking to your local dental practice and working out what's an achievable thing for you might mean you only go once every 12 months, if you're already pretty healthy."
While visitor numbers dipped early-lockdown, practice manager at Yambil Dental Care in Griffith Wachirathorn Ait Toudghi said visitors numbers have since returned to normal.

"Almost a year after COVID hit we've been quite busy," Mrs Ait Toudghi said. "More people are coming and I feel like people are less worried about COVID."

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