CHILDREN in the Orange region have occupied hospital beds for more than 200 nights for avoidable dental conditions, a figure which has astounded one of the city's dentists.
According to the Australian Dental Association, 273 hospital bed days were required in the 2017-18 financial year, with a total of 7855 people aged younger than 19 needing hospital treatment across the state.
Orange dentist Dr Francois Bothma was surprised at the statistics given he usually saw 10 a year, but there were two main reasons people avoided the dentist.
"Nobody likes going to the dentist and quite often the fears of the parents are passed onto the kids," he said.
"The other is financial reasons - we're living in a time where people are struggling to cover their expenses and they tend to delay their return visits."
But he said when pain started, decay was already present.
"People will then take painkillers thinking the pain will go away but more often than not, especially in children, it becomes a tooth abscess with swelling and bacterial infection and that often happens after hours or on the weekend so they go to the emergency room," he said.
Dr Bothma said early intervention was cheaper and treatment methods were far better than years gone past.
But he urged parents to watch their children brush their teeth to ensure they brushed properly.
The ADA issued a reminder to parents the Child Dental Benefits Schedule was available to families who receive the Family Tax Benefit Part A and other Centrelink payments.
The program offers children aged two to 17 years up to $1000-worth of subsidised treatment, including examinations, extractions, fillings, cleaning, sealing and even root canals across a two-year period.
However, only 37 per cent of eligible children access the program across the state each year.
ADA NSW President Dr Kathleen Matthews said it was a great opportunity to save on dental bills.
"Teeth are so important to overall wellbeing, while poor oral health can also contribute to debilitating health conditions such as diabetes and obesity," she said.
The $1000 must be used over a two-year period and cannot cover orthodontic or cosmetic work - to check eligibility, click here.