As noted in the child oral health article, water fluoridation and the widespread use of fluoridated toothpastes have led to dramatic improvements in dental caries (tooth decay) experience in children. Importantly, adults, including older adults, also receive dental health benefits from water fluoridation and fluoridated toothpastes. Despite these advances, more than 90 per cent of Victorian adults have had or currently have dental caries, with one in three (32 per cent) experiencing untreated dental caries (Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, 2019). Adult dental caries experience increases with age (Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, 2019).
Adults can also be impacted by gum diseases, which tend to effect adults more than children. In 2017-18, a total of 27.7 per cent of Victorians were found to have moderate to severe periodontitis (gum disease), with more than 70 per cent of those aged over 75 years of age experiencing moderate to severe periodontitis compared to 10.2 per cent of 15-34 year olds (Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, 2019).
The Victorian Population Health Survey asks respondents to rate their dental health.
In 2016, 37.1 per cent of people rated their dental health as excellent or very good, while 33.6 per cent rated their dental health as good (Department of Health and Human Services 2018).
A further 23.9 per cent rated their dental health as being fair or poor.
The proportion of people who reported having no natural teeth was 5.1 per cent.
A significantly higher proportion of women (42.9 per cent) rated their dental health as excellent or very good compared with men (31.1 per cent).
The National Study of Adult Oral Health identified that just over 57 per cent of Victorian adults reported making a visit to a dentist in the last 12 months (Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, 2019).
Most Victorians have access to the dental health benefits of water fluoridation. The department's extension of water fluoridation in 2017-18 to the communities of Cobram, Strathmerton and Yarroweyah further extended the benefits of this important public health initiative to more rural and regional Victorians.
Find out more
Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health 2019, Australia’s oral health: National Study of Adult Oral Health 2017–18, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide.
Department of Health and Human Services 2018, Victorian population health survey 2016, State Government of Victoria, Melbourne.
Reviewed 17 April 2023