Tooth decay growing in Australian children

The Dental Surgery general dentist Theodore Pang is a strong proponent of school dental programs and education to raise dental health in Tasmania.  Picture: PAUL SCAMBLER

The Dental Surgery general dentist Theodore Pang is a strong proponent of school dental programs and education to raise dental health in Tasmania. Picture: PAUL SCAMBLER

AUSTRALIANS are more likely to have a full set of chompers than New Zealanders, but rising tooth decay in our young children could change this trend.

A national report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare on dental health found that more than 60per cent of nine-year-olds accessing dental services had decayed, missing or filled teeth.

In 2010 more than half of children aged 12 and over had decay in their permanent teeth.

Australian Dental Association Tasmania president Chris Sanzano said there were no big surprises in yesterday’s report, with the trends present in this state.

He said he believed kids were hospitalised every week on the North-West Coast with tooth decay.

‘‘We’ve known for a while that children’s decay rates have been increasing,’’ Dr Sanzano said.

‘‘We need to be promoting healthy snacks for children including fresh fruit, and avoiding all soft drinks, fruit juices, cordial and instead drinking tap water.’’

The report also found that 38 per cent of people 15 and over had not visited a dentist in 12 months.

Dr Sanzano said this was most likely higher in Tasmania, because of lower socio economic groups, and longer waiting lists in public dental health.

The Dental Surgery dentist Theodore Pang said a greater focus on prevention education was needed to alleviate dental health issues in the community.

‘‘You need to look at the long-term view, and not just what needs to be done right now,’’ Dr Pang said.

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