Tens of thousands of Queensland children have rotten teeth by school age, a new report into public oral health care has found.
The data, released by Queensland Health, looked at the 130,000 children aged between five and 14 who accessed publicly funded dental care in 2016/17.
It revealed more than half of the children had a history of tooth decay, with almost one in four suffering decay in at least four teeth.
Queensland Health director of oral health services Dr Peter Osborne said children were not getting the best start in life and urged parents to get dental checks sooner.
“Parents should ensure their children brush their teeth twice a day, every day,” he said.
“Parents should also book their children in for their first dental check-up before they turn two, and regularly after that.
“Other important strategies to prevent decay are to limit the consumption of sugary foods and drinks.”
Dr Osbourne said more than 4,000 children under the age of nine were being admitted to hospital each year suffering severe tooth decay, but that the rates of hospitalisation had decreased over the past decade.
However, dental health is especially poor among Indigenous children, particularly those in northern and south-western Queensland.
More than two thirds of Indigenous children aged between 5 to 14 years old experienced decay and 41 per cent of those had four or more teeth affected
In the past 10 years, Dr Osbourne said hospital admission rates for Indigenous children had also increased.
“We know there is more work to be done to close the gap,” Dr Osbourne said.
“We are working to improve access to oral health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.”
*Original article online at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-28/thousands-of-young-queensland-children-serious-tooth-decay/10438754