UQ studies dental health of young Queenslanders

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 UQ study children's oral health
QLD Health Amy Thomas and Eagleby Student Wynter Rose Harris

The state’s first comprehensive oral health study in more than a decade is now underway to better understand the dental health and habits of Queensland children.

More than 5500 school students are expected to be a part of the University of Queensland project, which is being delivered in collaboration with Queensland Health and Queensland Department of Education at randomly selected state, independent and Catholic schools. 

Professor Loc Do from UQ’s School of Dentistry said the study would gather valuable information on childhood rates of dental decay and disease, and behaviours and attitudes to oral health.

“Shorncliffe State School was the first school to participate in this study and we received an enthusiastic response from students, parents and guardians,” Professor Do said.

Results from the state-wide Queensland Child Oral Health Study will be compared to the outcomes of a similar project conducted from 2010 to 2012, to find out if oral health among Queensland children has changed over the past 10 years.

“The previous study found a third of five- and six-year-old children had never visited a dentist, over a quarter of six- to 14-year-olds had decay in their permanent teeth and only three-quarters of children brushed their teeth the recommended twice a day,” Professor Do said.

Education Minister Grace Grace welcomed the study and said the health and wellbeing of students was a priority for the Palaszczuk Government.

“We know happy and healthy students have the best outcomes,” Minister Grace said. 

“That’s why schooling includes providing opportunities and environments that support young Queenslanders to make healthy lifestyle choices, and this research will help inform that.

“It will also complement our $100 million Wellbeing Program, which is putting GPs, psychologists, and other wellbeing professionals in our state schools.”

UQ vice-chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said the partnership with the Queensland Government would help ensure positive outcomes for families across the state.

“Collaboration is at the heart of all great research, and we look forward to making a difference to the health and wellbeing of young Queenslanders through the outcomes of this study.’’

With the consent of a parent or guardian, children randomly selected from participating schools will have a free oral examination conducted by a specially trained dental practitioner.

Parents and guardians of participating children will be asked to complete a questionnaire to gain an understanding of general oral health behaviour and attitudes towards health promotion.

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