One in three Australian children do not brush their teeth twice a day and one in ten have had at least one decayed tooth pulled out before they turn nine years old, according to new research by The Royal Children’s Hospital National Child Health Poll.
The RCH National Child Health Poll has uncovered for the first time that one in three preschoolers have never visited a dentist and many well-meaning parents are confused about how best to keep their child’s teeth healthy.
Infrequent toothbrushing, few dental visits, especially in toddlers and preschoolers, and a sugar-laden diet are all combining to set children up for a lifetime of poor oral health, the survey of Australian parents reveals.
Dr Anthea Rhodes, director of the RCH National Child Health Poll and RCH paediatrician, said that creating good habits can prevent many common dental problems.
“Brush teeth twice a day, visit the dentist at least once a year for checkups from age one, and choose a tooth friendly diet, including drinking tap water instead of sugary drinks. These simple things will help set your child up for a lifetime of good oral health,” she said.
The poll found that:
- One in three (31%) preschoolers have never visited a dentist
- One in four of all school-aged children (27%), two in five preschoolers (39%) and more than half (58%) of infants and toddlers don’t have their teeth brushed twice a day.
- One in four (23%) parents hold the misbelief that children only need to see the dentist if they have a problem with their teeth
- More than three quarters (77%) of parents don’t know that their children should see a dentist for their first checkup about age 12 months
- Almost half of parents (48%) don’t know that tap water, which contains fluoride, is better for teeth than bottled water
- Most parents (85%) do not know the maximum recommended daily intake of added sugar for children
- Half of parents (49%) do not know that there might be free dental services available for their child
In this video, Dr Anthea Rhodes shares a snapshot of the findings
In the news
Channel 7 Sunrise
The West Australian
The Herald Sun
Information for parents
The Royal Children’s Hospital resources
RCH Kids Health Info – dental care
RCH Kids Health Info – broken or dislodged tooth
Australian Dental Association – advice for babies, toddlers and kids
Australasian and New Zealand Society of Paediatric Dentistry – the dental home
Better Health Channel – tooth decay in children
Better Health Channel – toothbrushing – children
Raising Children Network – dental care for babies
Raising Children Network – dental care for toddlers
To find out if you’re eligible for free dental care under the Child Dental Benefits Schedule, visit the Department of Human Services.
Here, director of the RCH National Child Health Poll Dr Anthea Rhodes speaks with dentist Dr Mihiri Silva to offer some advice to parents when it comes to caring for their child’s teeth.