ADAQ President Dr Matthew Nangle on ABC North Queensland radio Breakfast with Michael Clarke

1 August 2022

ADAQ President Dr Matthew Nangle on ABC Radio North QLD Breakfast with Michael Clarke to discuss Dental Health Week, ADA survey and toothpaste habits.

Listen to the interview here.


Michael Clarke (ABC North Queensland radio host)
Dr Matthew Nangle ADAQ President 

Transcript auto-generated by Meltwater.

Michael Clarke: Well, here is a question for you before you headed out the door this morning or maybe if you have not done it yet, have you brush your teeth? I hope you have. Lovely clean teeth, lovely breath. It is important particularly this week because it is Dental Health Week. Which runs through until the 7th of August and while you may think, well, “do we need a week like this? Because it just come second nature to me to brush my teeth every morning.” You might be surprised at some of the habits of other people. To enlighten you this morning, Dr Matthew Nangle who is the Australian Dental Association Queensland President is here with us today. Dr Matthew how are you?

Dr Matthew Nangle: I'm good. Good morning to you Michael.

Michael Clarke: Now you are sharing with us something pretty alarming. You have discovered in your line of work, that some people to actually share toothbrushes?

Dr Matthew Nangle: Yeah, you would be surprised by the number of people that do share a¬ toothbrush. It's not recommended. The primary reason of course is its acting as a mode of transmission for potential diseases including COVID-19. People sharing toothbrushes, which comes as a surprise to some. But even family members all using their toothbrushes in the same room and if one individual has COVID-19 for example, they are brushing their teeth, they are making aerosol in that room which then settles on the other family members toothbrushes. So, we certainly encourage any individual affected to be isolating the toothbrush, as well as themselves. And then of course we recommend replacing that toothbrush after the disease.
Michael Clarke: So, if you have COVID when you recover, get a new toothbrush. Is that the message?

Dr Matthew Nangle: Definitely. Get yourself a new toothbrush and probably, you know, particularly where you have not isolated the toothbrush from your family member’s (toothbrush), everyone should get a new toothbrush. Because every time you're brushing your teeth, you're creating that risk of spreading by air – by aerosol. So, you know, I don't know if you have young children. But when you know when you clean the bathroom mirror and then the very next day it's covered in spray? That's the stuff you do see but what you've got here, are also very small particles floating around in that area that can settle elsewhere. So Yes, everyone should replace the toothbrush. After a period of disease in the family or individual.
Michael Clarke: Well, this discussion has really gotten very gross, but on a serious matter, COVID. COVID, you know, affected us in so many ways. Did people put off their dental checks? Did you find the people were staying at home, away from the dentist over the last few years?

Dr Matthew Nangle: Look, it was a bit of a double-edged sword. So originally in 2020 when we had the first major outbreak, there was a lot of concern. There was a lot of concern even within the profession of dentistry, because we do work in very close proximity to our patients. So, there was a lot of apprehension and uncertainly. The initial lockdowns meant that we were not even allowed to see people, to provide dental treatment unless it was for an emergency purpose. And there was some apprehension. But what we found interestingly towards the tail end of 2020/1 a lot of people suddenly found an appreciation for, their general health. Then there was a lot of interest in medicine, dentistry and health in general and we did see a rebound. We saw a lot of patients suddenly turn up after these initial lockdowns who would often say to me, “I think I missed my last six-month check-u.” Or, “I haven't been in a year”. And then suddenly that brought them along. 
It's interesting now we're getting a phase where we are endemic, with the COVID-19 for example. So we are seeing a number of individual sick with influenza at the moment and other respiratory viruses. But it's kind of gone back to normal. 

Michael Clarke: Ok, well, that's interesting to hear, because of course in your profession, you're the one health area where wearing a mask for the patient is not possible. You need to take that mask off and get very close into the mouth (laughs). So, an impact we are hearing in all aspects of health at the moment is that staff are off sick. Is that affecting our dentists?

Dr Matthew Nangle: It is affecting the dental profession yes. So, we are getting sick staff and but that's not so much through any sort of increased risk of transmission within a dental practice. In fact, it's very rare that we get transmission of disease in the dental practice because we've always had a very strong focus on infection control. And, you know, masks for dentists have been mandated in Australia since the 1980s so it's something we're on top of in this profession. But of course, now that everyone is getting diseases and everyone's getting sick, then that that affects our profession as well. So, we have found some anecdotal evidence that it's been hard for dentist to employ dental assistants. We are looking into why that might be that might be. If it is some sort of hang over of COVID-19, it might be perhaps working in dentistry is not an attractive proposition for young people were not too sure. We’re doing a lot of data collection on that right now.

Michael Clarke: Aside then for this said dental health week. Aside from that message about new toothbrush and not brushing in the same room. Really interesting point. What else would you like people to think about this week?

Dr Matthew Nangle: Dental Health Week, has been run by the Australian Association, various forms for many years. What I would like to highlight, was last year, in the tail-end of 2021, they (ADA) conducted a very large sample study of 25,000 Australians. And what I found quite shocking and what my patients have found a shocking statistic and even fellow dental professionals have asked about this. Last year in 2021, only one in 8 adult Australians attended a dentist for appointment. So I found that very shocking statistic because of course you know in dentistry we do encourage twice-yearly visits to sort of identify diseases earlier in the phase and keep on top of oral hygiene habits, you know, keep it healthy mouth healthy body. So, that is the one statistic which I find quite shocking. I would encourage people to try and attend the dentist more regularly. Perhaps if you've got a partner hasn't been in a few years tried to encourage them to go along as well. And you know that historically, there has been a lot of apprehension about attending the dentist, but you'll find it's a different world. These days we are we're much nicer bunch than colleagues 100 years ago (laughs). 

Michael Clarke: But if people aren’t going to the dentist, they might be getting a lot of products off the shelves. And these days there are so many to choose from, for example teeth whitening. In products that we get off the shelf today, do they work? Are really any benefits there at all?

Dr Matthew Nangle: Look they can work but there's such a low concentration of the bleaching agent that it takes weeks and weeks for them to have any kind of effect. And so, I do find those people that are buying those products, unless they are using them religiously and over a long period of time. They are not really getting a benefit. You hear about an anecdotal effect, wanting it to work you know the, white coat effect. So, when you buy these products, you might look in the mirror for a couple of weeks and think your teeth are suddenly much whiter, but it is because you have spent money on the product. 
If you attended the dentist to have your teeth whitening done, it's much stronger concentrations. We use proper barriers to minimise the risk of damage to yourself and tissue. For example, using concentrations, which can actually burn your guns. So that's why it's done in a controlled environment and certainly have heard horror stories of individuals getting the wrong products on the black market and then damaging themselves, causing chemical burns to the gums and mouth and throat. So, I would discourage anyone from looking towards purchasing these products from overseas, on some kind of black market. At least consult with your dentist over products before you before you go and purchase them not really knowing what you're buying and what it does.

Michael Clarke: A final question. This may seem very basic, but we have all seen, we all grew up on those Colgate ads we saw on TV where you know, squeeze so much out of the tube. It covered the entire toothbrush. How much toothpaste should you put on the toothbrush?

Dr Matthew Nangle: Well, look if you squeeze half a tube our, you can imagine how much product that company will be selling. The actual amount you need is a pea-sized amount. If you are a young child, even less. Just a fine little sliver of toothpaste and that is sufficient. You basically only need enough to create a sort of lather effect. You get the soapy, bubbly feeling in the month, and you do not need to cover the entire toothbrush, that's it's not necessary. 

Michael Clarke: Wow, okay, because it’s just become such an image. Well use less and see your dentist. That's the message for this week. Thank you so much for having a chat with us, dental health is really important and it's fascinating and as I said a little bit gross with some of those statistics. That is talking about dental health week Dr Matthew Nagel, who is the Australian Dental Association Queensland President and a senior lecturer at the University of Queensland School of Dentistry also works as a dentist and has uncovered some very interesting pieces of information there to share with you during this dental health week, so, yeah, that's an interesting one. I don't think I did that, after I recovered from Covid. I don't think I got a new toothbrush.