Dr Norah Ayad on 4BC Radio 

27 July 2022

ADAQ Past President and Gold Coast Councillor Dr Norah Ayad, was recently on 4BC radio talking to Sofie Formica about how Queenslanders have been avoiding the dentist. 

Listen to the interview here.


Sofie Formica (4BC radio host)
Dr Norah Ayad (ADAQ Past President and Gold Coast Councillor)

Transcript auto-generated by Meltwater.

Sofie Formica: Now we are learning today that new data shows us and alarming amount of us are dodging the dentist. There was a survey and it's a big one 25,000 people was a part of this survey. It  was commissioned by the Australian Dental Association and it tells us that 68% of adults have avoided getting their teeth and their gums checked in the past two years, and a quarter have not been to the dentist for 5 years. Some of the ailments that people have been living with over the past year for not going to the dentist is: suspected cavities cracked teeth bleeding gums. Joining me now is Dr Norah Ayad who is a board member and Past President of the Australian Dental Association here in Queensland. How are you, Dr Norah?

Dr Norah Ayad:
I'm really good, thanks. Thanks for having me. 

Sofie Formica: I've got to say I'm a little shocked by the amount of people who are neglecting their teeth, you won't get one set.

Dr Norah Ayad: Which is what we keep reminding people. And the data wasn't looking great in the last set of surveys that we did. To see it actually getting worse rather than getting better is absolutely a concern.

Sofie Formica: Dr Norah we blaming COVID on the fact that these figures are worse than they were last year?

Dr Norah Ayad: Look, it's hard. The survey didn't dive into the main reasons. Typically, the main reasons our patient tells they avoid coming to the dentist, the biggest one is cost. We do try to remind people, if you stay on top of your teeth, and on top of the Oral Health, then you're less likely to need the most costly dental treatment. 

Sofie Formica: Yeah, and look, that is a really (good point). I did want to get to the cost with you because there's been calls that Medicare also cover dentistry. We know that the likelihood of that happening is next to zero. And it is expensive. If you don't have private health cover for your teeth. It is the reason why people avoid it. But you're wanting to remind everybody that having those regular check-ups. While it might hit you in the pocket at that initial time will likely save you money in the long run.

Dr Norah Ayad: It's still our best preventative measure against more costly dental treatment. A check-up a clean a couple of times a year is much less expensive compared to needing complex treatments like root canals and teeth out and crowns and bridges and things like that. It still works out better to be preventative. 

Sofie Formica: If two-thirds of Australians have avoided going and I, as I mentioned, up to a quarter haven't gone in 5 years. I know that the ideal would be to get a check-up every 6 months. But even if it was just once a year, would that be better than the one where we are at the moment?

Dr Norah Ayad: Absolutely, it would still be a lot better from where we are at the moment. 

Sofie Formica: Tell us about gums, because I think sometimes they are incredibly neglected, particularly it comes to our dental hygiene and they can be the beginning of the source of lots of problems.

Dr Norah Ayad: Absolutely we know gum disease is not just about gums. It's not just about teeth it's associated with a whole host of chronic health conditions; heart disease, diabetes. We know that if we get better control of our gum disease, we generally tend to have better control of our general health. Most people tend to avoid it because the first sign or symptom of gum disease they notice is bleeding gums. And they immediately want to back off and thin, “I shouldn't touch it. I shouldn't continue brushing because it's causing the bleeding.” That's actually not the case. The bleeding is letting us know there's inflammation. It's not the brushing that's causing it. It’s definitely a sign that something's going on. 

Sofie Formica: When it comes to having to have work done, Dr Norah, we are speaking so much and very broadly about the pressure at the moment on our health system and certainly our hospitals. Is it the same with dentistry? Are we also finding that people who are hoping to be able to get help in the public system are finding that they are very long wait lists?

Dr Norah Ayad: Waitlists are always a struggle in an underfunded resources, like public dentistry and we definitely found that with lockdowns and things like that - Queensland were certainly lucky in the great scheme of Australia as a whole - but with lockdowns that tend to push people back a little bit more and so we're constantly trying to get ahead of those waitlists. 
Sofie Formica: Did you are find out from this survey, whether or not the guys are worse than the ladies or are we all in the same umbrella of poor dental hygiene?

Dr Norah Ayad: Look, I don't think it found that there is significant difference. I think it is just a generalisation across the population, so it didn't come up with anything too conclusive on that front. 
Sofie Formica: Well in my own my own survey, I would find that young men, in particular teenage boys, don't seem to be huge fans of brushing their teeth. It's my from my experience (laughs). What about kids, how often should kids visit the dentist?

Dr Norah Ayad: So, it's still the same recommendation because kids' teeth are changing so much. It's not just getting them regularly checked for the usual hygiene and cavities and things like that but they’re also growing and developing the way their teeth align. So it's still the recommendation twice a year. 

Sofie Formica: Well, it's been lovely to have you on. And just to remind everybody if you are one of the people who has avoided it for two years, or if you're one of the quarter who haven't had a check-up for 5 years - you might want to jump on the phone because as we've been saying to Dr Norah, in the end it may actually save you money in the long run. Thanks, Dr Norah for being on the show. 

Dr Norah Ayad: My pleasure, have a good afternoon.