Even The Easter Bunny Must Visit the Dentist

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While Australians are celebrating Easter and eating chocolate eggs, HBA is reminding parents that the holidays is a good time for children to have a check up at the dentist.

Increased consumption of non-tap water drinks, for instance soft drinks -- which may be both acidic and sugary -- or bottled water -- which does not contain fluoride -- are major factors in the high level of tooth decay in children.

HBA's analysis of the dental habits of more than 220,000 children under 25 revealed that 66 percent did not visit a private dentist in the 12 months to June 2007 -- showing a 6 percent increase who have not visited a dentist in the previous financial year.

HBA's membership data showed that children under five years had the lowest dentist visitation rates, with only 18 percent visiting a dentist in the past financial year. This is despite the Australian Dental Association's recommendation that children should visit the dentist every six to 12 months from the age of one to prevent dangerous tooth decay.

Of those under five who did visit a dentist, three percent had one or more teeth removed and more than 15 percent received an average of three fillings.

HBA's Dental Advisor, Dr Peter Clarke said a child's access to regular dental care was critical in the prevention of future problems with their teeth.

"Early prevention -- through diet, correct brushing practices and regular dental check-ups -- can reduce the effects of oral disease so it is alarming that so many children are not visiting the dentist regularly," Dr Clarke said.

HBA's analysis of children who visited a dentist during the 12 month period showed that:

  •     more than 20 percent of children under 25 received a filling, with an average of two fillings each.
  •     19 percent of children aged 6 to 10 years received a filling.
  •     children aged 11 to 15 had the highest average number of teeth removed -- two

Children under 25 who did visit the dentist in the past financial year, did so on average 2.6 times and were treated with an average of three dental procedures at each visit.

"Increased consumption of non-tap water drinks, for instance soft drinks -- which may be both acidic and sugary -- or bottled water -- which does not contain fluoride -- are major factors in the high level of tooth decay in children."

"At this time of year its fun to celebrate with Easter eggs, but it is also important for children to include a regular visit to the dentist as part of caring for their teeth," Dr Clarke said.

HBA's Medical Driector, Dr Bert Boffa said HBA was providing a solution to the declining oral health amoung Australian children.

"We know that visits to a dentist is a key way to prevent dental disease so with HBA, parents have the support they need to take their children for regular check ups," Dr Boffa said.

HBA is the only health fund in Australia enabling parents to take their children to more than 1500 Members First dentists and pay nothing for more than 250 types of dental procedures, such as cleaning, examinations, fillings and x-rays.

"This dental benefit means HBA now provides a comprehensive dental cover for Australian families, allowing children to visit the dentist more regularly," Dr Boffa said.

HBA provides this extended dental benefit for all families with children under 25 who have hospital cover combined with either Ultimate, Premier or General Extras cover.

HBA is Australia's third largest health fund, covering more than a million Australians, with a national market share of 10.3 per cent. HBA is the second largest private health fund in Victoria with 22.3 per cent market share. The fund operates as Mutual Community in the Northern Territory and South Australia -- where it is market leader with 43.2 per cent market share.

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Julian Murphy
HBA
(03) 9937 4345
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