Spoilt rotten

Queensland kids’ love affair with sweet treats has left their teeth in a state of decay.

With Easter well behind us, leftover chocolate isn’t the only thing that’s rotted.

So too have children’s teeth.

Whether it was overindulging on chocolate, binging on too many sugary drinks or a general lack of care, the teeth of Queensland’s youngest generations have been left in a state of decay.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found 42% of children aged between five and 10 had experienced tooth decay in their primary (baby) teeth, with one in four being left untreated.

Australian Dental Association Queensland President Professor Laurence Walsh said tooth decay among children had increased steadily over the past five years.

“You find a lot of the severe types of dental disease in kids,” he said.

“There is a large area of risk for decay when children are pre-schoolers.

“Many of them will require general anaesthetic to have teeth filled and removed and that waiting list, at times, has grown to be a year or longer.

“Also, if children have decay in their baby teeth, it doesn’t just go away and will continue with their adult teeth.

“The pattern and severity of their past decay is a very reliable predictor.”

Professor Walsh said while tooth decay rates in Queensland were some of the highest in the country, it was not evenly spread across the state.

“It’s not equally distributed across postcodes and is far more prevalent in areas with social disadvantage,” he said.

“In Queensland, children in Logan and Beaudesert had the highest rates of decay.”

As for the reasons for decay, Professor Walsh said it almost always comes down to diet and lifestyle choices.

“I have seen some families where they don’t drink much water at all,” he said.

“Usually they will drink soft drink, juice or some other liquid and that not only has implications for tooth decay but also early onset diabetes.”

“You have to do something about your diet.

“Brushing your teeth is a major preventative measure and often the first line of defence, but if you have a terrible diet with loads sugary foods and drinks then you’re not going to stop the decay.”

RACQ members receive 10% off any treatment at 1300 SMILES dentists. Simply present your RACQ membership card.


  • 42% of all children aged 5–10 have experienced tooth decay in their primary teeth.
  • 1 in 4 children aged 5–10 have untreated tooth decay in their primary teeth.
  • 1 in 25 Aussies aged 15+ have no natural teeth, while 3 in 10 avoid the dentist due to cost.