Research Shows That Kids Are Not Brushing Their Teeth Enough
New research shows one in three Australian children do not brush their teeth twice a day and one in ten have had at least one decayed tooth pulled out before they turn nine years old.
One in three preschoolers have never seen a dentist, according to Royal Children's Hospital National Child Health Poll, released on Wednesday.
Paediatrician Dr Anthea Rhodes at RCH says the results show poor oral hygiene habits are being learnt from an early age and this is setting kids up for a lifetime of painful tooth decay.
"We know that in Australia that tooth decay in children is on the rise and it's in fact the most common cause of preventable hospital stay in children under 15, so we did expect that there might be some worrying findings but what we didn't anticipate was just how poor the habits are in many homes across Australia when it comes to looking after kids' teeth," said Dr Rhodes.
The poll of 2,000 parents, representing 4,000 children, was conducted in January to provide information on what parents understand about oral health.
Dr Rhodes says what they'e uncovered is widespread confusion and a need for better education.
The majority of parents were not aware that a child's first dental check-up should occur at around 12 months of age, while almost half (48 per cent) of parents did not know that tap water, which contains fluoride, is better than bottle water when it comes to protecting teeth.
Most of the confusion among parents was in regard to caring for the teeth of infants, said Dr Rhodes.
"Lots of parents didn't think that baby teeth needed to be brushed in the same way that older kids need their teeth brushed and weren't aware that things like putting a baby to bed with a bottle at night is strongly linked to tooth decay," she said.
The poll also showed that despite 85 percent of parents knowing fruit juice is a sugary drink that can cause tooth decay, one in four children drank sugary drinks most days a week.
Video: Play School // George and Monica sing "Brush Your Teeth"