It is important for children to learn good habits in looking after their teeth from an early age. Dental problems can affect children’s everyday activities, can lead to children missing school and are often associated with poorer nutritional intake, gastrointestinal problems and diabetes.
Available data suggests that dental health is worse for Indigenous than for non-Indigenous Australians. Research using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) found poorer oral health is associated with disadvantage, indicated by lower socio-economic position of the family, Indigenous status, and residential remoteness. However, other research found that while access to dental care differed by socio-economic status, dental self-care (teeth brushing habits) did not.
This paper uses the data from Footprints in Time: the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC) to look at the links between the presence of dental health problems and socio-economic factors, access to dental services and dental self-care between Indigenous children living in different communities across Australia. The relationship between diet and dental problems is also explored, as well as whether dietary factors and dental health behaviours are sufficient in explaining dental problems. The analysis investigates whether:
By investigating dental health of Indigenous children living in different communities, with differing diets, dental health practice and access to health care, this paper provides a better understanding of how to improve health outcomes of Indigenous children.