26 September 2023

Data comes clean on child dental health

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Queensland Health data has revealed that between October and December 2021, 65 per cent of parents surveyed said their child brushed their teeth five to seven mornings each week, down from 78 per cent at the same time the previous year.

In a statement, the Department said the data showed that, similarly, 62 per cent of parents said their child brushed their teeth five to seven nights each week, down from 81 per cent.

Chief Dental Officer at Queensland Health, Mark Brown said the results, released to coincide with World Oral Health Day (20 March), were a timely reminder about the importance of children establishing and maintaining lifelong positive oral health habits.

“Tooth decay and gum diseases are common, but largely preventable and that’s why it’s so important to start good oral health behaviour from childhood,” Dr Brown said.

“Both adults and children should be brushing their teeth in the morning and it should be the last thing they do before going to bed at night,” he said.

Dr Brown said establishing morning and evening brushing routines were essential for children, including babies, to build lifelong habits.

He said teeth cleaning should start as soon as a child’s first tooth appeared.

“You can brush baby’s teeth with a soft toothbrush and add a children’s toothpaste to the brushing routine from 18 months of age,” Dr Brown said.

“Parents and carers are encouraged to help children to brush well for around two minutes and follow up with cleaning any places they may have missed.”

The Chief Dental Officer said cavities in baby teeth did matter, with tooth decay in children having the potential to lead to very serious issues in childhood.

“Tooth decay can not only cause pain, discomfort and infection, but it can also affect speech, jaw development, a child’s general health and their social wellbeing,” he said.

“Queensland Health provides a free dental service for eligible children to complement the efforts of parents and carers at home and help with unforeseen circumstances,” Dr Brown said.

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