Alarming results from a new national oral health study reveal the presence of untreated tooth decay in a quarter of all Australian children aged 10 and under.
The University of Adelaide National Child Oral Health Survey 2012–2014, the first population-based study of its kind in Australia for 25 years, incorporates data gathered from 24,000 children between the ages of 5 and 14 across the country.
The survey is a collaborative project between the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, based in the University of Adelaide’s School of Dentistry, and state and territory dental services.
“This study is one of the biggest and most comprehensive of its kind in the world,” says the university’s principal researcher, Associate Professor Loc Do, “giving us important and timely insights into the trends occurring in child oral health and behaviours of Australian children and their families.”
“We found that tooth decay affected a significant proportion of children. Over 40 per cent of children aged 5 to 10 years had decay in their primary [baby] teeth. One quarter of children in that same age group had never received treatment for their tooth decay. On average, Australian children aged 5 to 10 had 1.5 primary teeth with decay,” he says.
“More than one third of children aged 9 to 14 years had decay in their permanent teeth, and one in seven children in this age group had not previously been treated for decay in permanent teeth.”
The study revealed that, although the National Oral Health Plan’s target was every Australian child to see a dentist, one in nine children had never done so.
The Child Dental Benefits Schedule began on 1 January 2014, offering qualifying families up to $1,000 worth of basic dental treatment in any two calendar–year period for each child aged 2 to 17 years.
The program, which provides individual benefits for a range of dental services, including consultations, X-rays, cleaning, fissure sealing, fillings, root canal treatments and extractions, will not necessarily continue after the 2016 federal election.
Given the concerning rates of dental decay among children, it is paramount to keep your child’s dental health maintained with twice-yearly dental check-ups.
If you haven’t already taken advantage of the government’s Child Dental Benefits Schedule, we recommend that you schedule your child’s free dental check-up TODAY.
Please call one of our friendly reception staff on 13 13 96 if you would like to make an appointment for your child and claim your entitlements.
Further information on the Child Dental Benefits Schedule is available on the Australian Government’s Department of Health website.