Visit dentist to avoid hospital


Dentists are encouraging parents to book regular dental check-ups for their families amidst research suggesting potentially preventable hospitalisation rates for young children due to dental conditions are surging at around 29 per cent above target levels.

The 2024 Oral Health Tracker Report from the Australian Dental Association, indicates that almost 11 in every 1,000 Aussie children aged five to nine were admitted for preventable hospitalisations due to dental conditions, placing pressure on the public hospital system at a time when many emergency rooms are overburdened. Tooth decay is a major contributor to serious oral health issues with more than 27 per cent of children aged five to 10 experiencing untreated tooth decay in their baby teeth.

Dr Mark Dohlad, Bupa Dental’s Principal Dental Officer, said many of these hospitalisations may have been avoided if the children had received regular dental check-ups and treatment from an early age.

“Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease amongst children, which if left untreated, can lead to serious infections, ongoing pain and unfortunately a visit to the hospital that may have been avoided with good oral hygiene, healthy eating habits and regular visits to the dentist,” Dr Dohlad said.

“Dentists can help identify and treat dental problems before they become severe and require hospital admission. They can also provide education and advice on how to maintain good oral health and prevent future problems. By taking children to the dentist regularly, you aren’t only protecting their teeth and gums, but also helping to reduce the demand for hospital services, which are already under strain.”

With many Australians tightening household budgets in the current cost-of-living environment, initiatives are available to help families get their oral health back on track. These include the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS), a government-funded program that provides up to $1,095 for basic dental services for eligible children aged two to 17 over two calendar years to access basic dental services such as examinations, x-rays, cleaning, fillings and extractions.

The CDBS can be accessed through private dental providers such as Bupa Dental.