Caring for kids’ teeth below par, global survey finds

On the occasion of last month’s World Oral Health Day, FDI World Dental Federation asked parents around the world how they cared for their children’s oral health growing up and the responses—including from Australians—suggest room for improvement.

A survey carried out in 10 countries found that only 13 per cent of parents with children aged 18 and under took their child to the dentist before their first birthday—the recommended age for a first dental visit.

Most parents first took their child to the dentist when they were between one and three years old or between four and six years old, while 20 per cent of parents reported never having taken their child for a dental check-up.

“It’s worrying to learn that most children are not getting a dental check-up at the recommended age,” FDI president Dr Kathryn Kell said. “Good oral health habits start early. Parents should visit the dentist after their child’s first tooth starts erupting as a preventive measure to avoid risk of developing early childhood caries.”

Some other key findings:

  • Half of the parents who had taken their child to the dentist identified the reason as being a regular dental check-up. This was the most frequent answer given by the majority of countries surveyed including Australia.
  • More than two-fifths of parents with children aged 18 and under said that they personally ensured their child’s teeth were brushed before bedtime to avoid oral diseases—a key message promoted by FDI.
  • Forty per cent of parents supervised their child’s toothbrushing twice a day, and 38 per cent of them said they limited sugary foods and drinks in their child’s diet to avoid oral diseases.
  • Only 26 per cent reported to have personally cleaned their child’s teeth from as soon as the first tooth pushed out, and a mere eight per cent mentioned having encouraged their child to wear a mouthguard when playing sport.
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