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SA parents say kids tooth decay is inevitable

3 August 2012    


South Australian parents are increasingly accepting their children will get tooth decay as decay rates in primary school aged children continue to rise according to new research undertaken by the Australian Dental Association (ADA).

The research results released this during Dental Health Week (6-12 August) found 60% of parents accept their child will get tooth decay at some point in their lifetime, with 35% reporting their child only brushes their teeth once a day.

The ADA research follows the May2012 release of the AIHW Child Dental Health Survey Australia 2007: 30-year trends in child oral health, which found on average South Australian children aged 6 have almost two decayed, missing or filled teeth and decay rates in this State have been on the increase for 12 years.

Australian Dental Association South Australia President Dr Angela Pierce said we’re experiencing a silent epidemic which has made tooth decay the most common health problem in Australia.

“More than 11 million newly decayed teeth develop each year in Australia and tooth decay is now five times more common in children than asthma,” said Dr Pierce.

“Tooth decay is the second most costly diet-related disease in Australia and if people continue to accept that it is inevitable then it might not be long until its number one.

“We need to get the message across that tooth decay can be prevented with a healthy diet, good oral hygiene and regular dental care. It’s worrying so many people expect to get tooth decay or accept that decay is inevitable.”

According to Dr Pierce, avoiding tooth decay starts with keeping an eye on what you and your family eat and drink.

“Tooth decay in children is mainly caused by the regular consumption of sugary foods and drinks and poor oral hygiene.

“The bacteria in your mouth convert sugars into acid which eat away at the surface of a tooth, weakening the tooth enamel and eventually causing decay.

“Controlling the consumption of sugary or acidic food and drinks between meals, drinking fluoridated tap water and eating calcium rich foods will reduce the risk of decay, Dr Pierce said.

Maintaining healthy oral hygiene habits such as brushing teeth twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste is also vital. Parents need to closely monitor how their children brush their teeth and assist them to make sure it’s done thoroughly.

During Dental Health Week the ADASA is urging all South Australians to rethink their attitudes to tooth decay and not accept or expect it, but rather prevent it by practising better oral health habits both for themselves and their family.

Tooth decay facts:

  • The ADA states there are over 19 million decayed teeth in Australia and predicts 11 million additional decayed teeth each year
  • Researchers have estimated that poor dental health contributes to 600,000 days lost from school  and 1 million lost days of work each year

To prevent tooth decay:

  • Avoid snacking on sugary or acidic foods and drinks between meals. Some foods like muesli and fruit  bars might seem healthy, however if they are sugary or have a sticky texture, they may increase your risk of tooth decay
  • Eating calcium rich foods like milk, cheese and yogurt can help to neutralise acids and protect your teeth
  • Brush twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste – brushing can reduce your risk of decay by 25%
  • Drink fluoridated tap water – Studies have estimated an 18-40% reduction  in tooth decay when children drink fluoridated tap water in conjunction with other sources of fluoride

For more information and fact sheets on tooth decay, visit www.dentalhealthweek.com.au

For more information, please contact Simon Hatcher from Hughes PR on 8412 4100 or simon@hughespr.com.au