Increasing Rates of Tooth Decay Among Australian Children

The rate of tooth decay among Australian children is increasing, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

In the Dental and Oral Health report, released on February 26, AIHW revealed two out of three Aussie 12 year olds have tooth decay in their permanent teeth.

A number of dental experts have attributed this rise to an increase in the amount of sweetened drinks and food Australians are consuming.

"People are consuming a lot more fizzy drinks when they were once just a treat and there is a lot of sugar in fruit juice now. People are also eating prepared food more which is full of salt and sugar and light foods are full or sugar instead of fat," Professor Wendall Evans from the Sydney Dental School at the University of Sydney told The Daily Telegraph on March 4.

Mr Evans also explained the rise in popularity of drinking bottled water, which is often fluoride-free. This has led to not only children experiencing tooth decay, but also three in ten adults aged between 25 and 44 reporting untreated tooth decay.

The AIHW report found that only two in three people aged over five years old had visited a dentist over the past year. Within lower income families, more than one-third (34 per cent) hadn't visited a dental clinic at all within the past two years.

Further data collected by the AIHW shows that more than one-quarter (28 per cent) of Australians aged over five had avoided or delayed going to the dentist because of the cost. 

Despite the expense being a major influence on whether people visit the dentist, the AIHW found that only half of Australians aged five or over hold some form of private dental cover.

Because dental treatment is not covered by Medicare unless it is received in a hospital, many people delay visiting the dentist until their condition warrants emergency services. This is putting a significant strain on the Australian public health system while also causing significant health risks for individuals.

Delaying dental treatment can lead to serious health issues such as gum disease and tooth decay, and it has been linked to cardiovascular conditions and other major health concerns.

It is therefore important to ensure you hold a comprehensive extras level of cover as part of your health insurance policy to cover dental that will enable you to access necessary care without facing significant out-of-pocket expenses.

For more information on private health insurance, contact HICA today. HICA is your specialist health insurance broker, offering no-obligation quotes and private health insurance comparisons to help you find and choose the best dental cover for you and your family.

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AMANDA TINNER

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Berry Treffers

Berry.Treffers@hica.com.au

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Michael van Schaik

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