Dental health week; help children to brush up on their dental health
The Australian Dental Association (ADA) has the nation on watch during dental health week, which runs from 5-11 August, saying there is much work to be done to improve the dental health of all Australians, but especially those under ten.
Only half of Australia’s adults – and children’s role models – clean their teeth twice a day. In addition, sugar consumption around the country exceeds World Health Organisation guidelines, contributing to tooth decay as the most common chronic disease in Australia.
“If everyone brushed their teeth twice a day, flossed daily, visited their dentist regularly and ate a balanced, nutritious diet low in sugar, this would all go a long way to improving the dental health of Australians as they would need less dental treatments,” said ADA President Dr Carmelo Bonanno.
Dr Bonanno spoke also about the connection between oral health and general health, adding “it’s now becoming more widely accepted that there are strong links between the health of the mouth and what’s going on in the rest of the body so paying attention to your mouth will reap dividends for the rest of the body”.
Support for ECEC services
A range of activities designed to introduce the concept of good oral hygiene to children are available from a variety of sources. Dental Health Week can also be an ideal time to bring a dentist or oral hygienist into the early childhood education and care (ECEC) setting.
There are also a variety of regional and state based dental health promotion initiatives on offer which may be of assistance to ECEC services, such as Smiles 4 Miles.
Smiles 4 Miles is an initiative of Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) that works with ECEC settings to jointly develop a healthy eating and drinking policy, offer professional development for educators, and provides an award which demonstrates the services’ commitment to improving children’s health in the community.
Smiles 4 Miles supports children from birth to five years of age, and can be accessed by all service types, free of charge for eligible participants.
The Queensland Government estimates that almost 40 per cent of children aged four to six years of age had at least one tooth with decay at their first appointment, and that half of the State’s children aged five to ten years of age had decay in their baby teeth, leading to an average of four adult teeth needing dental treatment for decay damage, highlighting the importance of early intervention.
When promoting the importance of good dental health to families, issues of affordability can arise. The Department of Human Services has provided information about the Child Dental Benefits Scheme, which can help with the cost of basic dental services for eligible children between the ages of 2 and 17. Up to $1,000 over two consecutive calendar years is available to offset costs.
More information about Dental Health Week may be accessed through the ADA website.