04 Dec Too many young NSW kids have cavities. Here’s what we need to do…
Want to help keep your children out of hospital? Look after their teeth!
That’s the message given by the New South Wales ADA, which is accompanied by some worrisome facts from NSW health data. Preventable dental issues are the number one reason children are admitted to hospital in New South Wales, and there are long waiting lists in public hospitals for children to undergo general anaesthesia for mostly preventable tooth extractions.
Keeping your kids’ teeth healthy is VITAL – & not hard to do
As a parent, it’s hard to remember everything. You’re busy thinking about work, money, family issues – and just keeping a roof over your heads. But if you want to look after your kids’ teeth, their future – and avoid costly expenses, you must look after their teeth.
It’s as easy as 123
The good news is that looking after your child’s teeth is not difficult, providing we focus on three things – which take very little time:
- Dental hygiene
- Dental check-ups
- Understanding the dangers of excessive sugar consumption
1. Dental Hygiene
Start brushing your baby’s teeth twice daily as soon as their teeth erupt, using a soft-bristle children’s toothbrush and water. No toothpaste is required until they are approximately 18 months. After brushing, floss their teeth.
Gently brush your children’s teeth twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush and small amount of fluoride toothpaste that must not be swallowed.
Brush for a full two minutes.
Brush teeth twice daily, using a soft-bristle toothbrush, then floss. Children under the age of seven or eight will need help to brush their teeth.
There have been over 13,500 hospitalisations of children aged between 5 to 9 years for potentially preventable dental conditions between 2013 to 2014.
2. Dental check-ups
Bring your child in for their first dental visit at around 12 months of age. This will give the dentist a chance to examine your child’s mouth and teeth, help educate you about oral hygiene and get your child comfortable with the experience of going to the dentist.
3. Dangers of excessive sugar consumption
Avoid sugar as much as possible. This doesn’t mean you need to eliminate sugar entirely, but make sure it’s only an occasional treat – and always brush/rinse their teeth afterwards. Eat sugar-free food. Try to avoid all sticky, high-sugar foods and instead, encourage your children to eat plenty of raw vegetables, crackers, cheese and fruit.
Drink fluoridated tap water instead of sugary drinks. Fluoride helps protect tooth enamel and prevent cavities. Bacteria in your mouth love sugar – and sugary drinks, including fruit juices and sports drinks, all contain loads of sugar, which cause acid and cavities.
40% of NSW children up to age five have had tooth decay, and 50% of children up to age nine have had tooth decay...
How to afford dental visits
Private health insurance
Health insurance is a great option for those who can afford it. Many funds give a free checkup or clean and scale once a year, and this usually covers children, too. At Marketplace Dental Centre, Wagga Wagga, we’re registered with all health insurance funds and are preferred providers with Medibank Private, BUPA and HCF.
Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS)
If you receive any government benefit, you could be entitled to the CDBS, which gives your children (aged between 2 to 17) up to $1000 over two calendar years. CDBS covers most basic dental treatments – including checkups, scale and cleans, extractions, fillings, fissure sealing and root canal.
To find out if you qualify, visit the Department of Human Services website or call Medicare on 132 011.
Statistics on children’s dental health in NSW
- Disadvantaged groups e.g.those in low socio-economic areas, remote areas and indigenous Australians) have experienced higher levels of tooth decay; however, the problem is widespread.
- Approximately 40% of New South Wales primary school children have experienced tooth decay in baby teeth up to the age of five, with 50% of children under the age of nine having tooth decay
- Around 35% of 12-year-olds already have experienced tooth decay in their adult teeth
- Young children have the highest rates of preventable hospitalisations due to dental conditions.
- There have been over 13,500 hospitalisations of children aged between 5 to 9 years for potentially preventable dental conditions between 2013 to 2014
- 46% of New South Wales children had not visited the dentist before five years of age
- Early childhood tooth decay is a predictor of future tooth decay in their later years.