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Pearly whites not nearly right

News release
1 August, 2005

Pearly whites not nearly right

Kiwis aren’t very happy with the state of our pearly-whites if a new survey is to be believed. Only four per cent of New Zealanders in the survey have no desire to make positive changes to our mouths or teeth.

However, we do appear to lack commitment to improving our oral health.

While seven out of 10 of us would prefer to have no cavities or fillings, less than half of New Zealanders visit the dentist for a check-up. The rest of us go only if there’s something remiss or we need a clean.

The Dental Health Study[1] by Research International and commissioned by Colgate New Zealand shows we generally haven’t improved our dental health habits since a similar survey in 2004.

With August marking Oral Health Month[2] Colgate says it’s a good time for us to pay more attention to the state of our oral health.

Comparing Colgate’s 2005 survey to last year’s results reveals:

- Women still lead the way when it comes to dental health. Two thirds of men brush twice a day while almost three quarters of women do.
- Four per cent more people this year are brushing twice a day instead of once.
- When it comes to flossing, only one quarter of women have never reached for the tape while the figure is 37 per cent for men.
- Flossing frequency has improved generally with 21 per cent of us taking to the tape once a day compared with 17 per cent last year.
- We are going to a dental professional slightly more often than last year – 75 per cent of us have been to the dentist within the past 12 months against 70 per cent in 2004.
- Three-quarters (75 per cent) of us have never whitened our teeth (2004: 80 per cent) while three per cent have had the procedure performed at the dentist using a professional treatment such as Colgate Platinum.
- Only around one in 10 of us uses whitening toothpaste such as Colgate Whitening.
- Yet 68 per cent of respondents said they desired whiter teeth.

Dr Barbara Shearer from Colgate says there are some simple, easy rules everyone should follow when it comes to oral health. She 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.


[1] Dental Health Study conducted for Colgate NZ by Research International during May and June 2004 covering 502 people throughout NZ aged 16 years and over. Quotas and weightings were applied to the sample to reflect the New Zealand population.

[2] Oral Health Month in August is a Colgate New Zealand initiative supported by the NZ Dental Association designed to raise awareness of and encourage good oral habits and hygiene.

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