So far in Penrith, Summer has been a HOT one! If you are now back at work, you are wishing you were still on holiday. It’s 35°C, you can feel the sweat gathering above your brow and all you can think about is an icy, cold, drink of water. You fill up your glass and you can almost taste the cool water but as you take that first gulp, you are shocked by the sting of ice-cold water against your teeth. You think to yourself, when was the last time I went to the dentist?
Does this sound familiar? I know myself, growing up, dental appointments were not something that we made regularly and now as an adult, it is not something that I automatically prioritise. It’s no surprise that when you have your first child, dental appointments are the last thing on your mind. You are worried about so many other things; has my child had enough to eat? What injections do they need? Have they had enough time outside? It is no wonder that parents often forget about their children’s oral health.
So how soon are we even meant to take children to the dentist and is it really that important?
The answer is YES! Teeth are not only important for speaking and chewing but also hold space in the jaw for children’s adult teeth. As stated in the Report of the Chief Health Officer 2018 from NSW Ministry of Health 2018, ‘Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic illnesses among young children and can affect a child’s development and wellbeing.’ Tooth decay and/or trauma can cause pain, infection, difficulties eating and speaking and can also lead to crowding adult teeth. Poor oral health in early childhood can increase the chance of major dental problems later in life.
Children should have their first dental check up by the time they turn 1 or within 6 months of their first tooth appearing and should have regular check up’s at least every 12 months. By making dental visits regular, your child is more likely to develop good oral hygiene habits as they grow older.
Okay, so the dentist is important for your little one, but isn’t it expensive?
We know that as an adult going to dentist can be an expensive trip but if the cost of taking your children for a dental check-up is the only thing preventing you from making that appointment and you live in New South Wales, you should check your child’s eligibility for the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) The CDBS gives eligible children and teenagers access to up to $1,000 in benefits for dental services over two calendar years.
The CDBS is a bulk billed Dental scheme for lower income families. Children aged 2-17 years are eligible for this service if their families are in receipt of Family Tax Benefit A or a relevant Australian Government payment.
You can check your child’s eligibility by calling Medicare on 132 011.
What are we doing to improve children’s oral health?
Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services (NCNS) Early Childhood team has two Aboriginal Supported Playgroups and over the past few years, we have worked together with The School Dentist to provide free oral health checks to Aboriginal children in the culturally safe space that is our Koolyangarra Aboriginal Family Centre. The School Dentist is an amazing mobile dental service that brings clinicians to children and provides free oral health check-ups in familiar school settings.
Last year, NCNS held an Aboriginal Early Childhood Developmental Outreach Day where the School Dentist provided free oral health checks to 29 Aboriginal children. It was evident from the huge demand and interest on the day, that there is a need for culturally safe, easy to access dental care for Aboriginal children in our local area. As a result of this, NCNS will be working in partnership with The School Dentist once again to provide an Outreach Dental Clinic for Aboriginal Children aged 2-17 years on Thursday 18th April from 9am -3pm and later dates in 2019.
We want to help make your children’s oral health a priority! If you have Aboriginal Children between 2-17 years of age, we invite you to book into our Outreach Dental Clinic. To book in, is easy! Fill out a form and return it to NCNS 2 weeks prior to the Outreach day. To get your form, contact Carolyn, NCNS Team Leader – Early Childhood, on 02 4729 0442 or 0438 690 777. Bookings are essential – get your form today, we don’t want you to miss out!