Australian officials say tooth decay an epidemic

Tooth decay in Australian children is reaching epidemic proportions and it is costing parents thousands of dollars, according to a story in The Daily Telegraph.

NSW Dental experts claim parents are spending up to $5,000 on crowns for children whose teeth are deteriorating before they reach preschool, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Australian Dental Association Oral Health Committee chairwoman Philippa Sawyer told the Telegraph that almost half of Australian children under four suffer untreated tooth decay.

ADA president Neil Hewsen said the spread of sugary, acidic drinks and snacks aimed at children was largely to blame. Other officials blamed the prolonged and extensive use of baby bottles containing sugary drinks, the Telegraph reported.

NSW Health figures show by age 5 almost 40% of children have untreated decay, while more than 30% aged 5 to 8 do not visit a dentist regularly, according to NSW Health figures. Children who live in communities without fluoride in their tap water, Aboriginal children, and children from lower socioeconomic areas are much more likely to show early signs of decay, according to the agency.

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