Shocking statistics have revealed 58 per cent of infants and toddlers don’t brush their teeth twice a day.
The Melbourne Children’s Hospital Child Oral Health study says 31 per cent of preschoolers have never visited a dentist.
One in four parents also held the misbelief that children only needed to see a dentist if they have a problem with their teeth.
It can have a massive impact on general health if not caught early.Dr Madison Macpherson
Almost half of parents surveyed didn’t know that tap water, which contains fluoride, is better for teeth than bottled water.
Dr Madison Macpherson from Darling Dental said prevention was the key when working with children.
However, she admitted the problem was more common in the public sector, rather than private practice.
“I’m very lucky in private practice that a lot of families are really proactive on the prevention side of dentistry,” she said.
“We might see a lot of one year olds and have a bit of a play (with their mouths) to start off with, but the majority of families are aware they need to come in with the little ones.
“When working in the public sector before, I found this was not so much a shared common belief.”
Dr Macpherson said she agreed with the survey results that diet was a key factor in early childhood tooth decay.
“I totally agree with the article.
“A lot of parents can say it is genetic and that’s why their children have holes, but it is getting over that barrier that is something we definitely need to focus on in the future,” she said.
“If kids are eating a takeaway as a main meal throughout the day, it becomes a lot easier to pick up a soft drink and a coke, or bottled water, because they are out and about.
“From 18 months on the kids can have the fluoridated (kids) toothpaste, but once they get to age six they should be on the adult strength.
“If they can get that idea in motion earlier on, to come to the dentist, they’re not going to avoid the dentist when they’ve got pain.
“It can have a massive impact on general health if not caught early.”
Dr Macpherson said any child under eight years, regardless of if they have seen a dentist or not, should be supervised when brushing their teeth to ensure they are cleaned properly.