Oral health, ethnicity, and fluoridation
Ethnicity is a factor in determining the oral health of children, according to an article published in the New Zealand Dental Journal this week by dental public health specialists Martin Lee and Peter Dennison.
Dental health records for 8,375 5-year-olds, and 7,158 12-year-old children from Canterbury and Wellington were analysed. Even after taking into account water fluoridation status (96% of Wellington residents receive fluoridated water compared to 4% of Canterbury residents) and the decile of the school the children attended, Maori and Pacific children had worse oral health than other children.
Analysis also showed that water fluoridation had a significant effect in improving oral health, and that this improvement was greater for those groups with poorer oral health such as Maori, Pacific, and children attending low decile schools.
Overall, decay rates were 30% lower among 5-year-old children receiving fluoridated water, and 40% lower among 12-year-olds.