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Victorian-first insight into pre-schooler’s oral health revealed

28 October 2016


28 October, 2016

Victorian-first insight into pre-schooler’s oral health revealed

Cost, belief that the child “doesn’t really need to go” and “not enough time” have rounded out the top three reasons parents in Victoria are not taking their children to the dentist.

Things that prevent a parent from taking their child to the dentist

Data was gathered from 1845 children aged 3-5 years who received a dental examination at 61 Victorian *Smiles 4 Miles preschools in 2014/15.

The Victorian Preschooler Oral Health Survey is the largest and first ever state wide study of its kind in Victoria. The project was a joint initiative of Dental Health Services Victoria’s Centre for Applied Oral Health Research and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

Other results included:

  • 57 per cent of children showed a history of decay
  • Boys from rural areas had more decayed surfaces than girls from rural areas
  • Children who drank soft drink once or more per day had almost twice the number of decayed surfaces than those who rarely/never drank soft drink
  • Odds of plaque being present in substantial amounts across many teeth was 68 per cent higher for children whose parents held a health care/pensioner card
  • 27 in every 1000 children had received dental treatment under a general anaesthetic
  • A large proportion (37 per cent) of children had only early decay white spots. These white spots can be repaired by applying fluoride.
  • The survey showed that 40 per cent of parents were assisting their preschoolers to brush their teeth twice a day.
  • Children that lived in areas where their water source was fluoridated had less tooth decay.
  • Children from low socio-economic background, Aboriginal children and children who live in families who do not speak English at home had significantly higher rates of tooth decay.

DHSV CEO Dr Deborah Cole said the results highlighted the importance of making sure oral health remained at the forefront of general health with a strong emphasis on preventative care.

“Our new Strategic Plan also recognises this and we will continue to work hard in eradicating tooth decay as Australia’s most common health problem.”

Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said having healthy teeth, gums and good oral health helps people stay healthy overall.

“National Children’s Week is a timely reminder for us all on the importance of taking extra care to look after our children’s oral health,” Ms Hennessy said.

“This important survey will enable us to better target health promotion programs and dental services where they are most needed.”

* Smiles 4 Miles is a joint initiative of Dental Health Services Victoria and the Victorian State Government that supports parents to promote better oral health for their young children which reaches 30,000 children and their families in 505 early childhood settings in disadvantaged areas across Victoria

For more information/interviews please contact DHSV Media and Community Relations Manager Suzana Talevski on 0407 961 413