Friday, October 12, 2018

New data reveals alarming increase in number of children receiving dental treatment under general anaesthetic

An increasing number of Victorian children are requiring hospitalisation to treat preventable dental problems, with new data accessed by the Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch (ADAVB) revealing the devastating impact that poor oral health is having on vulnerable children.

Data obtained by the ADAVB under Freedom of Information shows that the number of children requiring a general anaesthetic for dental treatment provided through public dental services has dramatically increased. More than 2200 children aged 0-9 years required a general anaesthetic in 2017/18, an increase of 13 per cent over the past 12 months, and 39 per cent since 2013/14.

ADAVB President and public dentist Dr Kevin Morris said, “It is deeply concerning that over 2900 children aged 0-17 years required a general anaesthetic in 2017/ 18 to have more than 10,194 teeth extracted as well as thousands of fillings. Children aged 0-9 age years fared the worst, making up the majority (76 per cent) of cases, and accounting for an average of four teeth extracted per child.”

“Some children as young as 2-3 years old are having all their baby teeth removed, leaving them without any teeth for years before their adult teeth come through. Baby teeth are very important. They enable children to chew food and speak properly, and they reserve the spaces in gum tissue for future adult teeth. You can only imagine the devastating impact these extractions have on their health and nutrition, and their social and emotional well-being,” Dr Morris said.

Tooth decay is entirely preventable, with excess added sugar consumption a major contributing factor. Regular and early dental attendance is also important to help prevent dental disease.