Our children’s biggest dental health issues
Dr Silva highlights that dental conditions are one of the main causes of preventable acute hospitalisation of young children.
The biggest dental condition that dentists see is tooth decay, particularly in primary aged children.
“We know that 34 per cent of children aged five to six years old have experienced tooth decay in primary teeth,” says Dr Silva.
“As a paediatric dentist, I also see a lot of teeth affected by developmental defects.
“The teeth just don’t form correctly and are weak and can break down rapidly, causing pain and infection.”
Another big challenge is the impact of sugar on children’s dental health.
“Our children are exposed to so much sugar advertising and helping busy families reduce sugar intake is a real challenge,” adds Dr Silva.
What can parents do about dental health?
Dr Silva says it’s essential to set up good dental habits early in a child’s life, as well as seek early preventative dental care from a dentist.
“Teeth need to be cared for as soon as they come through the gums,” she explains.
“Parents should brush their young child’s teeth for them.
“As a general rule, when your child gets their ‘pen licence’ they can brush their teeth themselves, but parents should still supervise them and check how and for how long they are brushing their teeth.”
And then there’s toothpaste!
“From 18 months of age, it’s really important that the toothpaste contains fluoride and there are age-appropriate toothpastes on the market for young children,” explains Dr Silva.
“Children can move to adult-strength fluoridated toothpaste from six years old, but depending on the advice from their dentist, some children may be advised to change to an adult-strength toothpaste earlier on.”
Dr Silva recommends that a child’s first visit to the dentist should be when their first tooth comes through, or at 12 months old, whichever comes first.
“It’s really important that the first dental visit occurs early, babies change so much in those early years, and this is the best time to make sure we help families set up healthy habits,” she explains.
Finally, Dr Silva recommends restricting a child’s sugar intake early.
“While it can be difficult for parents to limit the sugar intake of their children, it’s a cornerstone to setting up good dental habits.”