Half of all six year olds have decayed teeth

There’s a one-in-two chance this is like your six-year-old’s mouth.

More than 50 per cent of all six year olds are affected by decay of their deciduous (baby) teeth, according to a report released yesterday by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, The Child Dental Health Surveys Australia, 2005 and 2006, presents information on the oral health of Australian children attending a school dental service (SDS) in 2005 and 2006. The findings are based on the results for 193,457 children aged from 4 to 15 in all states and territories except New South Wales and Victoria. A copy of the report can be found here.

The average six year old child has just over two teeth affected by decay. However, the 10 per cent of children this age with the most extensive history of deciduous tooth decay had about eight deciduous teeth affected. This was almost four times higher than the national average for this age group.

People can easily prevent such widespread tooth decay from simply finding a good dentist and go there at least every 6 months. They can suggest the best way to look after the child’s teeth. All parents have to do is search ‘dentist near me.’

Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory had the lowest levels of decay for baby teeth, while Queensland and the Northern Territory had the highest. Western Australia also had the lowest rate of decay among 12 year olds.

“In both six year olds and 12 year olds, the experience of significant dental decay in children tends to be concentrated in a minority,” said Professor Kaye Roberts-Thomson, of the AIHW’s Dental Statistics and Research Unit.

Slightly more than half of all 12 year olds are free from any decay of their permanent teeth.

“However, when taking into account those who have several decayed teeth, the average 12 year old has at least one tooth affected by decay,” Professor Roberts-Thomson said.

Among 12 year olds, the 10 per cent of children with the most extensive history of decay in their permanent teeth had an average of almost five teeth affected by decay. This is about four times higher than the national average for 12 year olds.

The Child Dental Health Survey data has been collected since 1977. The 2005 and 2006 collection is the most recently available data. The 2007 survey data are scheduled to be released in early 2012, followed by the 2008 survey data.

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