A recent study done by the Child Health Survey released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has found that nearly 50 percent of all children aged six experienced tooth decay.

Dentists in Sutherland Shire and St George advice parents to start the child's dental hygiene early after finding out cases of tooth decay in young toddlers of 12 months in age.

The study found that decay in the permanent teeth of children of 12 to 15 years of age was seen in 40 and 57 percent of the children. There was tooth decay in five or six permanent teeth of 10 percent of teenagers.

In children aged six, almost half of them had tooth decay with an average of 2 baby teeth affected. In children of four to six years old, the decay was found in more than 9 of their baby teeth.

The report stated that the increase of tooth decay is to be blamed on fruit juice and soft drinks that are loaded with sugar and acid.

Dentist Katina Routsios from Hurstville said that she had seen tooth decay in babies as young as 12 months. She also said that there have been cases of three-year-olds with a total of eight decayed teeth.

Tooth decay that is detected early is treated non-evasively, while severe cases may require filling or removal. She added, I have had kids, aged three and four years, who need to have four back molars extracted in hospital.

Untreated decayed tooth can affect the adult tooth which is undesirable and early treatment is needed to control it.

Recommended for children dental check-up should start at six to 12 months, followed with six-monthly visits after that. Dentist Jeffrey Agius of Miranda said he had treated toddlers as young as 18 months who suffered from tooth decay.

Children should snack on vegetables and eat not more often than every two hours, according to Dr Routsiou. Tap water that contains fluoride is the only thing that children should be allowed to drink regularly.