Childhood Dental Rates Increases Over Last 12 Months

Childhood Dental Rates Increases Over Last 12 Months

South Australia Minister for Health Jack Snelling

Parents Urged To Do More Amid Decay In Childhood Dental Rates

Victor P Taffa

A number of babies aged under 1 year old are among a worrying spike in cases of South Australian children who were hospitalised due to poor dental health in the last 12 months.

“There really is no excuse for parents not to be taking care of the dental care of the children when we are lucky enough to have access to the free School Dental Clinic.” Minister for Health Jack Snelling said.

“Good oral health habits need to start from day 1 for children to give their teeth a healthy start. Simple things like making healthy food choices, drinking plain tap water, brushing teeth twice a day and scheduling regular dental check-ups are essential and can prevent extractions and fillings.”

Sugary food and drinks, the consumption of non-fluoridated bottled water and overall poor oral hygiene have been blamed for the increase in dental decay in youngsters.

In the last 12 months, 24 children aged less than 1 year old were hospitalised for dental treatment under a general anaesthetic for procedures including fillings and extractions.

In the same period more than 2,500 children under 8 years of age required dental treatment under general anaesthetic a 55 % increase over the last decade.

“Over the last 10 years, we have increased our focus on high risk children and clinical prevention. This has contributed to a 25% reduction in the dental decay in 12 year olds attending the School Dental Service.” Senior Lead Clinician SA Dental Service Dr. Mark Penrose said.

“However, SA Dental Service remains concerned about the increasing numbers of young children with dental decay. Hospitalisations due to tooth decay are preventable and early treatment in children is vital.”

Alarming statistics have prompted the State Government to urge parents to book their child in for a dental check-up using either the free School Dental Service or a private dentist.


Oral health of South Australian children improved significantly in the mid-1970’s to mid-1990’s but since then the rate of tooth decay has been on the rise.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, tooth decay is one of the leading causes of preventable hospitalisations.

School Dental Service offers free, high quality dental care for the vast majority of children aged under 18-years-old, including babies and children not yet enrolled in school.

Around 146,800 South Australian children are currently enrolled in the School Dental Service making up less than half of the total number of children enrolled in school in areas where clinics are available.