24 Nov 2010

Fluoridated Australia - Dental decay putting more children in hospital than asthma

Dental decay putting more children in hospital than asthma: report
Breanna Tucker
Canberra Times (Australia)
November 24, 2010
Dental decay is hitting regional children twice as hard as their city counterparts, a new report says.
Children as young as 12 months are getting cavities while some primary school pupils are having all 20 of their teeth removed.
Dentists say the problem needs to be addressed as the decay can lead to heart disease, strokes and diabetes later in life. Their comments come as Oral B issued a report today showing dental decay accounted for more childhood hospital admissions than injuries or asthma.
It also found eight in 10 children from regional Australia did not brush their teeth twice a day, a third had never seen a dentist and 88 per cent hadn't been a dentist before the age of two.
Meanwhile, more than half had experienced dental problems such as a cavity or toothache by the time they turned 11.
The report was prepared by the Melbourne Dental School, Australasian Academy of Paediatric Dentistry, the Children's Hospital at Westmead and Barnados Australia.
David Manton, of the Melbourne Dental School, believes a lack of education among parents could be responsible for some of the figures.
"There is a common misconception among parents that an oral hygiene regime should only begin once their child reaches school age but I've treated children as young as 12 months old," he said.
"In some cases we've had to take eight, 10, 12 or even 20 of a child's teeth out because they've decayed so badly.
"Some parents think they only have to take their child for a dental check-up if something goes wrong but there are signs that tell dentists of early decay.
"If we pick them up early enough, we can actually take measures to help that decay heal."
The study found that cost (37 per cent) was the main barrier for parents seeking dental help for their children while 25 per cent said distance was an added factor.
To combat the problem, Oral B is launching a health program aiming to educate or provide monetary assistance to one million Australians.
A mobile clinic tour will be launched on Monday providing free check-ups for children and families in regional locations.
Any parent or carer of a child found to require dental work during the check-ups will be urged to apply for an Oral B grant, which will be distributed by Barnardos Australia.
Susan Tregeagle, of Barnardos, urged parents to book their children in and to take the opportunity to learn more about best practices.
"Ongoing chronic pain, embarrassment at losing teeth and hygiene problems stand in the way of children developing well," she said.
"Their ability to concentrate at school and to feel accepted by other children are amongst some of the consequences."

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