Costs cause barriers for kids oral health

Teenagers - put off by the cost of oral healthcare.
Teenagers – put off by the cost of oral healthcare.

Most Australian children report good oral health; however financial barriers continue to affect the dental visiting patterns of children from low income households, according to a report released this week by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Child and teenager oral health and dental visiting: results from the National Dental Telephone Interview Survey 2010, describes the self-reported oral health and dental visiting patterns of Australian children and teenagers in 2010 as well as trends between 1994 and 2010.

It shows the majority of children and teenagers reported good oral health and made regular visits to a dentist.

“Almost 70 per cent of children and teenagers had made a dental visit in the previous 12 months with the majority—84 per cent—visiting for a check-up,” said AIHW spokesperson Professor Kaye Roberts-Thomson.

“However, children from the lowest-income households were less likely than those from higher income households to have made a dental visit and to have visited for a check-up-as has been the case over time.”

Overall, almost 30 per cent of children avoided or delayed seeking oral health care, did not have recommended treatment, or their household experienced a large financial burden due to the cost of dental care.

“Children from low income households were 7 times as likely as those from high income households to avoid or delay visits due to cost, and 6 times as likely to have not had recommended treatment due to cost,” Professor Roberts-Thomson said.

The report also provides some international comparisons.

Overall, Australian children were less likely to report that they had fair or poor oral health than their counterparts in New Zealand-even though they were less likely to have made a dental visit in the previous 12 months.

Australian teenagers were less likely than Canadian teenagers to report fair or poor oral health, and were more likely to have avoided or delayed making a dental visit due to cost.

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