Dental fear sees record dental cavities in Australian children

Parents with dentophobia endanger their child’s oral health as thousands of young Australians end up in hospital due to tooth decay.

For Sally-Anne Blandshard, it was a bad reaction to a standard wisdom tooth removal procedure that left her afraid of going to the dentist.

While the procedure took place during her teenage years, Ms. Blandshard’s fear, also known as dentophobia, continued into adulthood.

It was only when it was time for her two children to go to the dentist that the Brisbane mother knew she had to overcome her fear.

Ms Blandshard’s experience matches half of all Australian adults, with a quarter admitting they haven’t booked a consultation with their dentist since their ‘bad experience’.

This fear is then passed on to their children, contributing to an intergenerational fear spiral around oral health.

New research by oral care brand grin of course found that 40 percent of Australian parents were not aware of what to look for when checking their children’s teeth due to a lack of dental education.

In addition, the data showed that nearly one in three children under the age of 10 had developed a cavity, and another 36 percent of parents did not know how a cavity develops.

Due to this lack of education, more than 26,000 children under the age of 15 are hospitalized every year for treatment of tooth decay.

Oral health therapist Emma Cubis says it’s the idea that their child will share the same “nightmare” dental experience, the cost of treatment and the potential pain that keeps parents from making an appointment.

“Parents should not be afraid to take their children to the dentist,” Ms Cubis told

“Neglecting a child’s oral health has serious consequences for them later in life as they are more likely to have problems with their teeth as adults.”

Ms. Cubis recommends introducing children from the age of two to the dentist, where activities such as teeth counting and a ride with the dentist are offered to help reminisce about a fun experience.

It is also a good opportunity for the dentist to assess the child for dental or gum problems and to teach parents how to properly care for their child’s teeth as they develop.

“I know it can be a huge step to call to make a dental appointment, so know that we understand that attending is a huge step and we always strive to make the appointment as comfortable as possible when we know this , said Mrs Cubis .

Let your dentist know what makes you anxious as this will help us help you. Let us know any specific triggers so we can minimize them for you during your appointment.

Bedside management has also come a long way, said Ms. Cubis, with dentists offering a number of techniques to soothe all young patients.

This includes “goodie bags” consisting of a new toothbrush, floss and toothpaste and breaking down dental terminology in understandable language such as the term “tooth counter” for the dental probe.

“Especially if it’s the child’s first dental check-up and in the early stages of building trust, we make sure we don’t push a child out of their comfort zone,” said Ms. Cubis.

“This can be like sitting on their parent’s lap if they don’t want to just sit in the dental chair or just watch instead of using the dental probe and mirror. We can also refer to specialized pediatric dentists who are highly trained in the care of young children.”

Sally-Anne Blandshard’s fear of the dentist has abated since taking her kids for a checkup, as she’s seen firsthand just how far the dental experience has come.

Another motivator that helped the mother of two return to the dental chair was the idea of ​​having the perfect smile and giving the best health care to her children.

“There’s nothing worse than having your fear magnified by their tears,” Mrs. Blandshard said in response to her discussion of how she had overcome her fear.

“(It’s important) to just be there. Hold their hand and know that they need you more than your fear needs you.”

Both children and adults are advised to brush their teeth twice a day and to book a dental check-up at least once a year.

To encourage more Australians to take care of their dental health, Jana Pittman, a former Olympian and mother of six, has partnered with Grin Natural as an ambassador for their ‘Share a Grin’ campaign.

Until the end of August this year, Grin Natural is donating a toothbrush to a child in need for each of their products purchased from Chemist Warehouse.

“Being a parent is extremely tough, there is so much to think about and prioritize, but implementing a good oral care routine with your children as young as

it may set you and your family ready for a brighter future,” said Dr. Pittman.

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