Poll shows parents confused about keeping children's teeth healthy

Many well-meaning parents are confused about how best to keep their child’s teeth healthy, according to a national child health poll.

The Royal Children’s Hospital poll found one in three Australian children do not brush their teeth twice a day, one in 10 have had at least one decayed tooth pulled out before they turn nine years old and one in three preschoolers have never visited a dentist.

In findings on the RCH website, the poll also said:

  • Infrequent toothbrushing, few dental visits, especially in toddlers and preschoolers, and a sugar-laden diet are all combining to set children up for a lifetime of poor oral health, 
  • 27% of all school-aged children, 39% of preschoolers and 58% of infants and toddlers don’t have their teeth brushed twice a day.
  • 23% of parents hold the misbelief children only need to see a dentist if they have a problem with their teeth
  • 77% of parents don’t know their children should see a dentist for their first checkup about age 12 months
  • 48% of parents don’t know tap water, which contains fluoride, is better for teeth than bottled water
  • 85% of parents do not know the maximum recommended daily intake of added sugar for children
  • 49% of parents do not know free dental services might be available for their child

Oral health is a focus in Western  NSW with the Royal Flying Doctor Service running programs around the region from its Dubbo base. It launched The Outback Oral Treatment and Health (TOOTH) program over five years ago, advises against giving oral health the brush-off and warns general health can suffer from the likes of tooth decay.


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