You will not be surprised to find that we at the Wombat Post are interested in Wombat teeth. Wombats have unique teeth for the animal world. Unlike us, their teeth are rootless and grow continuously – 24 of them including two mighty incisors giving them their ‘beaverish’ look. Eating a diet of tough grasses full of silica is hard on teeth, so ongoing growth and maintenance is a good idea.

We, on the other hand, have 32 teeth that wear out and give us grief when they do. Cunning bacteria getting into the gums and cracks in teeth not only cause mouth inflammation, pain and misery but general bad health to boot.

This can include heart disease when the bugs in your mouth get into the bloodstream, lung infections when you breathe in the bugs and bowel disease when you swallow them. Not entirely pleasant thoughts. Yes, we know this is a all a ploy to get you to think about your oral health.

But the problem is serious. For the record, the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare reports that 35-54 year olds in Australia have an average of 10 decayed, missing or filled teeth. That’s one in three rotten teeth. ¬†Even Australian 10 year olds have an average of 1.5 missing or problem teeth. Having baby teeth extracted is one of the main reasons for toddlers to go to hospital and have a general anaesthetic. Dentists hate pulling teeth from squirming distressed four year olds.

Australia has problem teeth.

This is not a good look, in more ways than one. Missing teeth put a dent in your self image and your social life. It’s not surprising that ‘smile’ is in so much advertising for dentists.

Worse, bad teeth are expensive. The average cost of a standard check up and clean is now around $230. Don’t even think about crowns and implants unless you have deep pockets.

The Grattan Institute estimated having a universal ‘Denticare’ scheme would cost around $5.6 billion per year. Sounds a lot but amazingly, that’s less than 5% of total health spending in Australia. Yet the Federal Government shows no signs of putting teeth into Medicare with the rest of the body.

How come we have such costly, misery causing teeth? Because, like Wombats, we have decided to have a tough diet for our teeth. We love stuff that is bad for our teeth – chocolate, sweets, cakes, chips, bread, sugary drinks. So do bacteria. Nor do we clean our teeth enough to get rid of the bugs and in Daylesford we don’t have fluoride in the water either.

Of course we are not alone. Given a chance, Wombats will eat soft junk food too. Don’t feed the Wombats junk food. There might be a hint in there for the rest of us.