Tooth decay is becoming a common occurrence in an increasing number of Australian children, according to new data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Titled the Child Dental Health Survey Australia 2007 – 30-year trends in child oral health, the report indicates that rate of tooth decay among those aged between six and 15 years has increased since the mid-1990s.
In 2007, the average six-year-old had two decayed, missing or filled teeth – a trend that continued into the teenage years, according to study author Kaye Roberts-Thomson.
"Among older children, 39 per cent and 60 per cent of children aged 12 and 15 respectively had some history of decay in their permanent teeth," Professor Roberts-Thomson said today (May 25).
"I think the practice of cleaning children's teeth twice a day with toothpaste with fluoride in it is usual for most children but for a number of children it's not," she added, speaking to the ABC.
Australian families may find dental health services more accessible through private health insurance, with policies providing cover for a wide range of services including general and major dental, orthodontic, periodontic, endodontic and preventative services.
The University of Queensland began a study last month to assess whether childhood dental problems could lead to poorer health later in life.