Number of children having teeth extracted in NSW hospitals doubles
The rates of children aged 5 to 14 years having teeth extracted and restored in NSW hospitals due to dental decay has almost doubled since 2001.
Figures from NSW Health show that in 2001-02, a total of 2,094 children aged 5 to 14 years had teeth extracted or repaired in hospital due to decay. That number jumped to 4,088 in 2014-15.
In NSW, the highest rates for preventable hospitalisations for children are due to dental conditions. ‘Every day, in dental hospitals across New South Wales, young children are being wheeled into theatre to have serious dental surgery under general anaesthetic. The key issue is that this is avoidable through good oral hygiene – brushing your teeth twice a day, eating a healthy diet and avoiding too much sugar,’ President of ADA NSW, Dr Sabrina Manickam said.
‘As a dentist, I regularly hear my patients say they inherited bad teeth. This simply isn’t true. They have inherited bad habits, not bad teeth. Early education is the key and it’s never too early to start. Parents need to be teaching their children to brush their teeth properly twice a day,’ Dr Manickam said.
Since water fluoridation began in the 1950s, Australians born after 1970 have, on average, half the level of tooth decay of their parents’ generation. ‘Water fluoridation has made a significant difference but we are in danger of undoing all of that because children today aren’t brushing their teeth and they are eating and drinking too much sugar,’ Dr Manickam said.
In NSW, 40 per cent of children aged 5 to 6 years have experienced dental disease. This is significantly higher in certain populations, including Aboriginal children (2.5 times higher), children from a lower socioeconomic background, children living in remote and very remote areas (up to 6 times higher), and for children of mothers born in non-English speaking countries.
‘This is why targeted programs, like the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) are so important to ensure those most in need have access to dental treatment,’ Dr Manickam said.
Hospitalisation rates can be viewed via HealthStats NSW here
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