FUNDING for a dental scheme for children and young people has been welcomed by Western NSW Local Health District Oral Health Services director Jenni Floyd.
Ms Floyd said the $4 billion federallyfunded dental program, announced on Wednesday, would go a long way to improving the dental health of Australians aged under 17.
However, she said improving the dental health of toddlers, children and adolescents began at home.
“I am very concerned that dietary factors are the major contributor to the poor dental health of young children,” she said.
Ms Floyd said babies put to bed with bottles of formula or juice were more susceptible to developing cavities in their teeth at a young age.
“The message is really quite clear that we shouldn’t allow our children to sip on fizzy drinks or juices, which contain a high sugar content,” she said.
Ms Floyd said many of the children being treated in dental clinics had been given too many sweet drinks, with the residue remaining in their mouths for hours, contributing to cavities.
“We are getting a whole group of children presenting with cavities who aren’t even two years old,” she said.
“It is difficult for some busy working mothers, as it is an easy option to put a baby or a toddler down with a bottle of formula, milk or juice, but the message is clear that we need to focus more on water in bottles as an alternative to juice. There should be no juice in a bottle given to a baby or a toddler.”
Ms Floyd said habits of generations are hard to break but parents will reap long-term benefits with a child with healthy teeth. She is pleased that a strong focus of the new scheme will be children in rural and regional areas.