Griffith tackles global rise in tooth decay

The Griffith Oral Health study aims to find out why tooth decay is rising around the world.

The global rise in Dental Caries (tooth rot) has lead a Griffith University team to question whether contemporary dental health interventions are sufficient to battle modern day causes of tooth decay.

In 1970s the proportion of 5-6 year old children with tooth decay in most developed countries was around 57%. This halved by the 1990s but then began increasing again.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2011, 48.7% of 5-6 year old Australian children had tooth decay in their milk teeth and nearly 45.1% had dental decay of permanent teeth.

Professor Newell Johnson and visiting Sri Lankan researcher Dr Surani Fernando from the Ministry of Health in Sri Lanka are leading a study into what contemporary influences come to bear on the teeth of young children.

The Griffith Oral Health study will be part of the large Environments for Healthy Living Project (EHLP) run by Griffith Health Institute’s Population and Social Health Research Program.

Dr Fernando has undertaken similar oral health research in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo.

“It was proven from the study done in Colombo that adults can have an impact on the oral health status of the children studied,” she said.

“The EFHL study is already providing a wealth of information relevant to our oral health sub-study.

“From existing data, we are planning to search for associations between socio demographic, economic, family environment and other factors including dental visits, and oral diseases (mainly tooth decay) of a child.

The Griffith Oral Health study will also seek to come up with new ways improving dental hygiene which could be more relevant to people’s situations and lifestyles.