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Health News

STUDIES SHOW IGNORING ORAL HEALTH CAN HAVE SERIOUS IMPACTS ON THE REST OF THE BODY

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ORAL HEALTH NSW Northern Rivers
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STUDIES SHOW IGNORING ORAL HEALTH CAN HAVE SERIOUS IMPACTS ON THE REST OF THE BODY

Previously unknown health risks for Australians – that gum disease suffered by one in three Australian adults1 could increase the risk of serious cardiovascular events, Type 2 diabetes and adverse pregnancy outcomes – are now coming to light following decades of dental and medical studies.

For Dental Health Week (2-8 August) this week, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) wants to alert Australians to the very close links between what goes on in their mouths and the far-reaching effects on the rest of the body.

The latest research across a range of studies2 has shown that people with advanced gum disease (periodontitis) have a much higher risk of a heart attack than people without it.(See Background at end of release for more.)

In another study3 conducted recently by Prof Joerg Eberhard, an oral health scientist and Chair of Lifespan Oral Health at the University of Sydney’s School of Dentistry, it was found that not brushing your teeth caused systemic inflammation which could prompt serious cardiac events.

“We asked a cohort of healthy young people with no cardiovascular risk factors, to not brush the same quadrant of their mouths, that’s seven teeth, for three weeks, to see what effect it would have on their health,” explained Prof. Eberhard.

“After three weeks we measured the inflammation in that quadrant of the mouth and we found the inflammation caused by not brushing there, had reached other parts of their body.

“But as soon as they started brushing that quadrant again, C-reactive protein, a risk marker for heart attacks, went down to normal levels. It’s another clear and concerning link between mouth health and whole of body health.”

Extensive research over decades has found that the main conditions that link the mouth with the rest of the body are cardiovascular, Type 2 diabetes and adverse pregnancy outcomes4.

Studies are also being conducted into the effects of periodontitis on pregnant women. Some early data suggests that if the gum disease is treated, the risk of having a premature baby declines.

The ADA’s Oral Health Promoter and dentist Dr Mikaela Chinotti said:“These serious health conditions and events can be significantly reduced if people regularly look after their mouths.

“That means brushing twice a day with a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste, flossing daily, eating a diet low in sugar and seeing your dentist regularly for checkups. These typically include a scale and clean which is vital for removing the bacteria that build up and start the process of periodontitis and inflammation.”

Another recent international study5 by a group of cardiologists and dentists showed that treatment for gum disease reduced blood pressure (BP) normally only achieved through medications, because high BP can come about due to a loss of elasticity in blood vessels and this loss can be caused by inflammation from gum disease.

Lifestyle also plays a big role in oral health: in a three year study6 of people from Queensland with poor oral health including gum disease, Prof. Eberhard and colleagues found that by adopting better teeth brushing techniques, going regularly to the dentist and adopting a healthier diet all led to reduced systemic markers which are predicters for a heart attack.

The ADA’s Dr Chinotti explained that periodontitis signs can be difficult to spot and may include bleeding from the gums and very little or no pain, and without treatment, the condition can worsen over time until affected teeth may finally become loose.

Risk factors include older age, smoking, drinking alcohol above recommended levels, the presence of diabetes and poor oral health practices.

“While periodontitis damage can’t be reversed, you can stop its progression by seeing a dental practitioner for treatment, including professional cleaning of the teeth above and below the gums which the patient cannot access, which halts the disease and reduces inflammation.”

More advanced cases may need surgical treatment performed by a specialist periodontist under a local anaesthetic to access difficult to reach areas under the gums.

“Regular dental visits are the best way to keep on top of your oral health and detect and manage conditions such as periodontitis, in their earliest stages of development.

“This is in addition to those other oral health basics that add up to only about six minutes a day but which protect the health of your whole body and not just your mouth.

“For too long mouth health has been separated from body health. It’s time to put the mouth back in the body.

“The ADA hopes that by making this mouth and whole-of-body relationship more widely known to Australians, they’ll understand oral health is an integral part of general health.”

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Health News

Health Insurance Premiums Skyrocket, Some by 15% or More: CHOICE

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Health Insurance Premiums Skyrocket, Some by 15% or More: CHOICE

 

Should You Consider Self-Insurance? Plus Other Tips to Save!

Consumer group CHOICE has found that many Australians faced significant increases in their health insurance premiums in April, with some premiums rising as much as 17%—far higher than the annual average industry-wide price increase of 3.03%.

“CHOICE reviewed the prices of over 24,000 policies with hospital cover and found Gold policies had the highest premium increases, with average increases above 10% for HBF, HCF, HIF, and Australian Unity policies. One Gold policy in Western Australia even saw a 17% hike,” said CHOICE health insurance expert Jodi Bird.

“With these sky-high increases, it’s worth taking the time to review your health insurance to ensure you’re only paying for what you need, and that you’re getting it at the best possible price,” Bird added.

CHOICE’s Top Tips for Saving on Your Health Insurance

  1. Drop Gold Hospital Insurance

“Gold hospital cover has become too expensive. If you have a specific condition usually covered by Gold policies and want to use the private hospital system, look for a Silver Plus policy or consider self-insurance.”

Self-insurance is an alternative to private health insurance. Instead of paying an insurer, you save money yourself to cover private health costs as they arise. If you don’t need any health treatment, your savings will grow.

“We have found that in some cases, opting to self-fund your health care can be the better-value option,” Bird explained.

For example, cataract surgery, one of the most common surgical procedures in Australia, is often only covered by the most expensive Gold policies. CHOICE’s analysis showed that the annual cost of top-cover health insurance could exceed the out-of-pocket cost for a private cataract procedure.

“This option may only be suitable for people who have few health issues and do not anticipate any unexpected health events. And of course, you need to ensure you have the money set aside in case you require a surgical procedure or treatment in the private system,” Bird advised.

  1. Compare Policies to Find a Good Deal

“We always recommend comparing policies to find the best value policy to suit your needs. The same cover with a different insurer may save you hundreds of dollars a year. Look beyond the well-known big funds and consider smaller funds; switching to a smaller fund often provides a cheaper deal,” said Bird.

“If you’re unsure where to start, CHOICE has an independent health insurance comparison tool that allows you to compare thousands of policies from over 40 insurers,” Bird suggested.

  1. Do You Need Extras Insurance?

“The value of extras insurance really depends on the individual. It can be worth purchasing, but only if you use it enough that it pays out more than the premiums that are coming out of your pocket,” Bird noted.

“If you need extras insurance, shop around and buy your extras from a different provider than your standard hospital cover if you find a better deal,” Bird recommended.

Compare health insurance policies here: CHOICE Health Insurance Comparison Tool

 

For more health news, click here.

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NSW Seniors Urged to Book Free Flu Vaccine Amid Rising Respiratory Illnesses

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NSW Seniors Urged to Book Free Flu Vaccine Amid Rising Respiratory Illnesses

 

People aged 65 and over are being strongly urged to book their free influenza vaccine as respiratory illnesses continue to rise across NSW.

The latest NSW Health Respiratory Surveillance Report, released today, indicates a rapid increase in influenza activity in NSW, with COVID-19 transmission also reaching high levels.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant reported a 27% increase in influenza notifications and a 23% increase in COVID-19 notifications for the week ending 25 May compared to the previous week.

“While everyone aged six months and over is urged to get their influenza vaccine as soon as possible, it is particularly important for those at higher risk of severe illness from the virus,” Dr. Chant said.

“Influenza immunisation rates aren’t where they need to be. Less than half of people aged 65 and over in NSW have received their influenza vaccine this year. We really need to see that number go up, especially as people in this age group are among those most at risk of severe illness.

“We expect the number of influenza cases to quickly increase in the weeks ahead, so now is the time to get vaccinated if you haven’t already done so.”

The influenza vaccine is free and readily available for those at higher risk of severe illness from influenza. It is available through GPs for any age group and through pharmacies for everyone aged five years and over.

Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN) Infectious Diseases Paediatrician Dr. Phil Britton noted that influenza notifications are increasing across all age groups, particularly among young children aged three to four years.

“In recent weeks, we have seen influenza cases rising among young children. The best thing parents can do to keep their kids well this winter, and reduce the risk of them being hospitalised due to influenza, is to ensure their children receive a flu vaccine,” Dr. Britton said.

Free Flu Vaccination Eligibility:

  • People aged 65 and over
  • Children aged six months to under five years
  • Aboriginal people from six months of age
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with serious health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, severe asthma, kidney, heart, and lung disease

Steps to Protect Yourself and Others from Respiratory Viruses:

  • Stay up to date with recommended influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations
  • Stay home if you are sick and wear a mask if you need to leave home
  • Gather outdoors or in large, well-ventilated spaces with open doors and windows
  • Avoid crowded spaces
  • Consider doing a rapid antigen test (RAT) before visiting people at higher risk of severe illness
  • Talk with your doctor now if you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or influenza to make a plan about what to do if you get sick, including what test to take, and discussing if you are eligible for antiviral medicines
  • Don’t visit people who are at higher risk of severe illness if you are sick or have tested positive for COVID-19 or influenza
  • Practice good hand hygiene, including regular hand washing

For more information and to book your vaccination, visit your local GP or pharmacy.

 

For more seniors news, click here.

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Mental Health Service Boost in Coffs Harbour with Opening of Medicare Mental Health Centre

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Mental Health Service Boost in Coffs Harbour with Opening of Medicare Mental Health Centre

 

Communities in and around Coffs Harbour will soon benefit from increased mental health support with the opening of a Medicare Mental Health Centre in late June. Healthy North Coast, which delivers the North Coast Primary Health Network program on behalf of the Australian Government, announced today the selection of local not-for-profit organisation Open Minds as the service provider for the new centre.

Monika Wheeler, CEO of Healthy North Coast, emphasised the importance of accessible mental health services. “It is estimated that 43% of Australians will experience mental health distress at some point in their lives. It is vitally important we have a range of mental health services that are easily accessed in times of need,” she stated.

The new centre will offer free, walk-in mental health services with no appointments or referrals necessary. This model is designed to provide immediate and tailored support to individuals in need. Wheeler highlighted the success of a similar initiative: “Our Lismore Centre, also run by Open Minds, opened in 2022 and has delivered over 9,000 sessions and supported more than 1,000 people. We’re confident that the Coffs Harbour Centre will be a welcome addition for residents looking for a tailored experience and connection to the right support for them and their circumstances, which are different for everyone.”

Rik Barker, General Manager of Integrated Mental Health Services (NSW) at Open Minds, welcomed the announcement. “We look forward to opening the doors in Coffs and delivering a quality mental health service, improving the wellbeing of people on the Mid North Coast,” he said.

Key Features of the New Centre

  • Staffing: The centre will be staffed by mental health and allied health professionals available to visitors based on their level of need. There will also be a Social and Emotional Wellbeing Worker for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, in partnership with Galambila Aboriginal Health Service.
  • Location and Hours: The centre will be co-located with the Coffs Harbour Neighbourhood Centre in Block B of the Community Village, 22 Earl Street, Coffs Harbour. Initial hours of operation will be 8 am to 6 pm, Monday to Friday, with provisions for targeted/appointment-based services for up to four hours on Saturdays.
  • Accessibility: Residents can visit the centre without prior appointments, and services are free of charge.

Wheeler explained the community’s enthusiastic response to the new centre, noting its welcoming space and easy accessibility. She also encouraged those unable to visit in person to utilize the free Head to Health service by calling 1800 595 212 for phone-based support.

Additional Information

  • Crisis Services: The Medicare Mental Health Centres are not intended for crisis or emergency services. For urgent support, individuals should contact Lifeline at 13 11 14 or the Mental Health Access Line at 1800 011 511. For immediate help or if at risk of harm, calling 000 is advised.

For more information and updates, visit here.

 

For more Coffs Harbour news, click here.

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