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Youngster’s oral care in decline

Youngster’s oral care in decline

Kiwi kids in their first year of school appear not to be looking after their teeth as well as they did a few years ago.

A comparison of Ministry of Health figures for 2001 and 2003[1] shows there has been a 14 per cent increase in the number of teeth with decay amongst five year olds.

In 2003, the latest year for which MOH figures are available, school starters had an average 2.06 teeth with decay, up from 1.8 in 2001.

Regionally, five year olds in the Auckland region[2] have the best teeth with a mean DMFT rate of 1.16. However, Northland has one of the country’s worst rates at 3.44, only marginally better than Tairawhiti (East Coast) at 3.45.

Waitemata District’s DMFT rate is 0.97, the country’s best while in the Midland Region it is 2.77, Central 2.18 and Southern 2.07.

Amongst year eight students, the Auckland region’s rate is 1.19 against 2.07 for Midland, 1.43 for Central and 1.80 for the Southern Region.

Across the country, 53 per cent of five year olds have no caries or decay while for eight year olds, the percentage drops to 45.

With August marking Oral Health Month[3], the figures are a good reminder to pay attention to the state of our oral health.

They are backed by a recent survey[4] conducted by Colgate showing only a small proportion (5%) of New Zealanders are following a recommended oral care routine.

This was the same figure revealed in Colgate’s 2004 survey.

The Colgate survey results back the national health statistics showing upper North Island Kiwis are twice as conscientious as South Islanders when it comes to meeting all the dental health recommendations.

Dr Barbara Shearer from Colgate says home dental care should include brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, flossing and regular toothbrush replacement.

“In an ideal world we would be brushing twice a day, flossing daily and replacing our toothbrushes when the bristles become splayed, or at least every three months,” Dr Shearer says.

“It is also important to visit your dental professional for regular check-ups.”

She says there are two things she would add to the care regime – first of all, limiting the consumption of sugary or acidic foods and drinks and secondly chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva.

About Colgate’s Oral Health Care Month: To help raise oral health awareness in the community, Colgate is hosting New Zealand's second "Oral Health Month" during August 2005, in association with the New Zealand Dental Association, New Zealand Dental Hygienists Association and the New Zealand Dental Health Foundation. Colgate’s Bright Smiles Bright Futures education kits will be available to teachers in pre-schools to undertake oral health teaching sessions. There will be media advertising and in-store promotions of Colgate Oral Care products to increase awareness of oral health and encourage a complete daily oral care regime by New Zealanders.


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