This publication reports on oral health, dental visiting and dental treatment needs of Australian children as reported in the National Dental Telephone Interview Survey (NDTIS) 2010. Time series data across all NDTISs conducted since 1994 are presented to provide a picture of how key measures have changed over time. Finally, comparisons with international data are presented to provide a picture of how Australian children fare among their international counterparts.
The majority of Australian children report good oral health. However, 7% reported that they had experienced toothache and 10% reported that they had avoided certain foods during the previous 12 months. Children from low income households were more likely to report having fair or poor oral health and to have experienced toothache than children from high income households. There was no significant change over time in these measures.
Almost 70% of children made a dental visit in the previous 12 months and the majority (84%) visited for a check-up. Less than a third of pre-school-aged children had ever made a dental visit. Children from the lowest income households were less likely than those from higher income households to have both made a dental visit and to have visited for a check-up. Both of these measures of dental visiting have remained fairly stable over time.
Barriers to dental care use
Around 13% of children avoided or delayed making a dental visit due to cost. Around 6% did not have a recommended treatment due to cost. Overall, almost 30% of children avoided or delayed seeking 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 than those from high income households to avoid or delay due to cost and 6 times as likely to have not had recommended treatment due to cost.
Comparable data are available for children in Canada and New Zealand. Overall, Australian children were less likely to report that they had fair or poor oral health, and less likely to have made a dental visit in the previous 12 months than their counterparts in New Zealand. Australian teenagers were less likely than their Canadian counterparts to report fair or poor oral health and were more likely to have avoided or delayed making a dental visit due to cost.