Parents unaware of free dental care for kids

TOOTH decay is the most common chronic disease in childhood and parents are being asked to follow simple steps to keep their child's smile bright.

Queensland Health data shows a third of parents are unaware that most kids have access to free dental care up until they leave school.

All children aged four up to Year 10, and any child with a Centrelink concession card, can access it.

Kids aged between two and 17 may also be eligible under the Child Dental Benefits Schedule.

Data shows 55 per cent of kids aged five to 14 who attended the public oral health service had tooth decay and a quarter of them had decay in four or more teeth.

West Moreton Health acting director of oral health Dr Kelly McGowan said parents need to keep an eye out for upcoming visits by Child and Adolescent Oral Health Service vans at their children's school.

The vans visit local schools throughout the year and parents just need to fill out an online form on the West Moreton Health website to get treatment.

"After that, parents just need to join their child for their first appointment to sign a consent form, have a chat about their child's oral health history and meet our friendly team," Dr McGowan said.

Dr McGowan said general check-ups, education and services like x-rays, cleaning, fillings and extractions were available with no out-of-pocket expenses to eligible patients, and emergency treatment is also accessible, at West Moreton Health's community dental clinic in Ipswich.

It also operates an oral health education van that teaches kids how to care for their mouths.

"Keeping a healthy smile is more than just about teeth, it is an important part of general health," she said.

"Starting oral hygiene habits early can help prevent illnesses like diabetes, respiratory conditions and heart disease later in life."

Queensland Health's chief dental officer Dr Mark Brown said kids should be booked in for their first oral health check before they are two-years-old and then regularly after that.

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