Most children and teenagers report good oral health, but costs cause barriers for some

Most Australian children report good oral health; however financial barriers continue to affect the dental visiting patterns of children from low income households, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Child and teenager oral health and dental visiting: results from the National Dental Telephone Interview Survey 2010, describes the self-reported oral health and dental visiting patterns of Australian children and teenagers in 2010 as well as trends between 1994 and 2010.

It shows the majority of children and teenagers reported good oral health and made regular visits to a dentist.

'Almost 70% of children and teenagers had made a dental visit in the previous 12 months with the majority-84%-visiting for a check-up,' said AIHW spokesperson Professor Kaye Roberts-Thomson.

'However, children from the lowest-income households were less likely than those from higher income households to have made a dental visit and to have visited for a check-up-as has been the case over time.'

Overall, almost 30% of children avoided or delayed seeking oral health care, did not have recommended treatment, or their household experienced a large financial burden due to the cost of dental care.

'Children from low income households were 7 times as likely as those from high income households to avoid or delay visits due to cost, and 6 times as likely to have not had recommended treatment due to cost,' Professor Roberts-Thomson said.

The report also provides some international comparisons.

Overall, Australian children were less likely to report that they had fair or poor oral health than their counterparts in New Zealand-even though they were less likely to have made a dental visit in the previous 12 months.

Australian teenagers were less likely than Canadian teenagers to report fair or poor oral health, and were more likely to have avoided or delayed making a dental visit due to cost.

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, 3 July 2013

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