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The Newcastle Herald Media Coverage: Hospitalisations due to tooth decay and cavities have nearly doubled in Hunter children since 2001

The number of Hunter children needing hospital treatment for tooth decay or cavities has almost doubled since 2001, new data shows.

The latest NSW HealthStats show the number of children aged 0-14 requiring hospital treatment for dental caries in the Hunter New England health area rose from 217.7 per 100,000 in 2001, to 418.6 in 2018.

On average, there were about 364 hospitalisations for dental caries in 2001, which rose to almost 740 in 2018.

Raymond Terrace dentist and Australian Dental Association NSW board member, Dr Chris Wilson, said children were often being introduced to sugary drinks, and sugary foods, earlier.

"And quite often, parents don't realise how much sugar there is in things," he said.

"There are lots of drinks advertised as having no added sugar, but if you look how much sugar is in them, there is still quite a lot. It's the same with a lot of the snacks advertised. They've got high levels of sugar, they are sticky and cling to kids teeth, but they'll be promoted as having no added this, that and the other."

Dr Wilson said a "significant number" of people also thought they did not need to worry about brushing kids teeth because they fell out.

"But that's not right. If you've got teeth, they should be being brushed and looked after," he said. "We are still seeing pre-school kids and early school kids with significant holes, and we know enough these days to know that if people start looking for that early enough, and making sure they keep on top of their dental health and don't have silly diet habits, that that just shouldn't happen."

Dr Wilson said the rise in hospitalisations could also be due to practitioners and parents trying to make dental procedures "less dramatic" for children with several cavities.

"If a child has more than one or two problems, you'd think about having one general anaesthetic and doing them all at the same time," he said. "The two things we can influence are our diet - what we put on them, and
how we look after them - so brushing them."

He said the Commonwealth Dental Health Program subsidised dental care for children from the age of two to 18.

Read The Newcastle Herald Article Here

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