5 common reasons kids under 14 need the dentist


3 minutes

30 November 2022

Young girl in dentist chair smiling  

From the moment your child’s first tooth appears, dental care is important to help prevent tooth decay and treatments.

Let's look at five reasons your child may meet the dentist's chair before they get into their late teens.

1. Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in Australian children1

Getting kids to brush their teeth isn’t easy, but just look what happens when they don’t.

More than one third (34.3%) of Australian children have experienced tooth decay in their primary (baby) teeth by as early as age five to six, and almost a quarter (23.5%) of kids and teens aged six to 14 have experienced decay in their permanent (adult) teeth.

If left untreated, tooth decay can wear down teeth and form cavities. Treatments such as fillings are necessary to repair the tooth before it becomes too damaged to save.

Worryingly, this may be the case for many Australian children.

More than a quarter (27.1%) of kids aged five to 10 have untreated decay in their primary teeth. Nine per cent of this age group have untreated tooth decay in their permanent teeth.

So, why is all this tooth decay happening?

2. Kids under 5 are not visiting the dentist enough1

Regular check-ups can help catch dental problems and decay early on in kids – yet only 55 percent of children under five have visited a dentist.

That’s why it’s recommended to make the first trip to the dentist when a child’s first tooth appears (or by 12 months of age if no pearly whites have come up). Dental check ups are recommended from when a child’s first tooth has appeared or by 12 months of age. Regular check-ups can help identify any early signs problems or decay.

3. As they get older, Aussie kids are eating too much sugar1

Many Australian kids are drawn to sugary foods and drinks - and the statistics show a worrying trend.

70 per cent of children aged nine to 13 years consume too much sugar, as do 73 per cent of children aged 14 to 18 years .

Excessive sugar consumption leads to increased plaque which can dissolve enamel and cause cavities and tooth decay.

4. Very young children sometimes need dental surgery2

According to HBF claims data, Dental surgery was one of the top 5 reasons kids under age 10 went to hospital and made an insurance claim.2

The most common dental surgeries for children under 10 include:

  • Teeth extraction
    • When baby teeth are ready to fall out but are not doing so naturally
    • When a tooth is embedded in the jawbone
    • When a tooth is severely decayed
    • When teeth are overcrowded
  • Fillings
  • Dental crowns

5. Children in school sport are getting more dental injuries3

Australian kids love their sport, but sometimes it’s not losing a game that hurts.

Sporting related injuries add up to nearly 40 per cent of dental injuries. Injuries include broken jaws, fractured, cracked and dislodged teeth. Fixing these injuries can be costly.

When playing sport, it’s recommended that all children wear a custom-made mouthguard to help prevent serious injury.

How can I cover dental costs for my kids?

While only 2.1% of government health spending is dedicated to dental services,1 Medicare does have the Child Dental Benefits Schedule which covers some or all the cost of basic dental for children aged 0-17, however, conditions apply.

Private health insurance can help cover the cost of check-ups, fillings, and rel="noopener noreferrer" dental surgery.

What does health insurance cover for dental?

Get covered for kids dental and more

HBF has extras cover to keep you smiling. Explore our dental cover now and find the best option for your needs.

Find out more


1 Australian Dental Association - Australia’s children and young people oral health tracker (2018)
2 HBF claims data, 2019-2021 (2021)
3 Australian Dental Association, NSW - Mouthguards a must as dental injuries are on the rise


This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.