Our Say: We need to fill in the gaps on dental health

AS parents, it’s fair to say we have the best interests of our kids at heart.

But when it comes to their dental health a new study has revealed we might be letting them down.

The results from a Royal Children’s Hospital child oral health poll have revealed some bad habits are forming in some Australian homes.

According to the poll, one in three preschoolers have never visited a dentist and one in four parents believe kids only need to see their dentist if there is a problem.

While that in itself, might not paint too bad a picture, the problem gets more serious when it comes to every day dental hygiene.

About 39 per cent of pre-schoolers and 58 per cent of infants and toddlers don’t have their teeth brushed twice a day.

Almost 50 per cent of parents don’t know that tap water, containing fluoride, is better for teeth than bottled water.

Most parents did not know the maximum daily sugar intake requirements for their kids either, the poll found

There is a real pattern here.

How do we fix it?

It all comes back to the parents and the knowledge they’re equipped with.

There are questions that should be asked.

Who is responsible for arming parents with the knowledge to ensure their kids have happy and healthy smiles into the future?

If parents are not adequately equipped with the facts to ensure they attend these check ups, then does the responsibility come back to general practitioners to feed the information to parents during the vaccination process, or more routine visits?

Perhaps the problem could be allayed with early intervention.

Instead of introducing children to dental hygiene habits through PDHPE programs in early primary school, the distribution of educational materials and knowledge could be passed through early childcare centres and pre-schools.

Dentists have told us education is key to long-term dental health, and after all they’re the ones in the know.

Better knowledge can prevent future problems. The Royal Flying Doctor Service runs dental programs around Western NSW and advises against giving oral health the brush-off … general health can suffer from the likes of even simple tooth decay.

Let’s get schooled on the topic to get on the front foot and stop childhood tooth decay in its tracks.