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Children's oral health is associated with the oral health of their parents and their family circumstances according to Families and their oral health, a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

A second report, Chronic conditions and oral health, also released today by the AIHW, shows that people with chronic conditions and diseases were more likely than those without to have poor dental health.

The Families and their oral health report, based on 2010 survey data, shows that around 17% of Australian children experienced an 'oral health impact' in the previous 12 months - either toothache or avoiding some foods because of oral problems.

For children who experienced an oral health impact, 23% had parents who also experienced an oral health impact in the same period.

For children who did not experience an oral health impact in the previous 12 months, 86% had parents who also had no oral health impacts.

'Children who experienced an oral health impact were also more likely to be from families who had difficulty paying a $150 dental bill,' said AIHW spokesperson Professor Kaye Roberts-Thomson.

'In addition these children were more likely to be from families whose parents avoided or delayed dental visits for themselves because of cost.'

The Chronic conditions and oral health report found that people with chronic conditions such as asthma, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, stroke, kidney disease, high blood pressure and depression were more likely than people who did not have these conditions to:

  • experience toothache;
  • be uncomfortable with their oral appearance;
  • avoid certain foods due to oral health problems;
  • have inadequate dentition (making it difficult to chew food); and
  • experience orofacial pain (pain in the mouth and/or face).

'Among people with a chronic condition, those who had experienced a stroke had easily the highest average number of missing teeth, and were by far most likely to have inadequate dentition and to avoid some foods due to oral problems,' Professor Roberts-Thomson said.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 23 October 2012

Further information: Prof. Kaye Roberts-Thomson, AIHW (08) 8313 5438; mob. 0439 840 870

Full publications:

Families and their oral health

Chronic conditions and oral health