The mean number of decayed, missing or filled teeth (DMFT) among ACT primary school children aged 12 years.
What do we measure?
This index quantifies dental health status based on the number of teeth decayed, missing or extracted of children aged 12 years in the ACT. The number of decayed (D), missing (M) or filled teeth (FT) is expressed as the DMFT (for permanent teeth).
Why is this important?
Dental Caries (tooth decay) is the most common oral disease and among the most prevalent health conditions in Australian children. The National Child Oral Health Study 2012-14 states that just over 40.0 per cent of children aged 5-10 years in Australia had experienced caries in their primary teeth and one-quarter of children aged 6-14 years had experienced caries in their permanent teeth.
Child oral health remains a significant population health issue in Australia with only 50.0 per cent of children brushing their teeth the recommended twice a day and 57.0 per cent of children seeing a dental professional before the age of five years.
Poor oral health is a significant contributor to the burden of disease in Australia contributing to the rising cost of healthcare. An estimated $10 billion is spent each year on oral health with many of these costs incurred for treatment of oral disease which is preventable.
The ACT Dental Health Program (DHP) offers a range of child and youth dental services to the community to all children under the age of 14 years who live in or attend an ACT school, and young people under the age of 18 with access to a Centrelink issued Pension Concession or Health Care Card.
The ACT DHP strategically identifies and targets access for Priority Population Groups as indicated in Australia's National Oral Health Plan 2015-2024.16 These include people who are socially disadvantaged or on low incomes and people with additional and/or specialised health care needs.
The Child Dental Benefits Schedule (Australian Government initiative) is a program that provides access for eligible children to benefits for basic dental services to children including dental check-ups, x-rays, cleaning, fissure sealing, fillings and extractions. The total benefit entitlement will be capped at $1,000 per child over a two calendar year period.
How is the ACT progressing?
Table 8: Mean DMFT Index rate for ACT children aged at 12 years, 2012-14
Source: University of Adelaide 2016, Oral health of Australian children: The National Child Oral Health Study 2012-14.
Note The University of Adelaide, in collaboration with public dental jurisdictions around Australia, undertakes a national survey representative of all children once every ten years.
16 COAG Council 2015, Australia’s National Oral Health Plan 2015–2024