News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


New Zealand Kids’ Teeth Continue To Get Worse

New Zealand Kids’ Teeth Continue To Get Worse

The statistics for New Zealand are shocking. At the age of five almost half of our children have tooth decay.

There is no excuse for poor oral health in New Zealand. All pre-school and school children have access to free dental checks and treatments from local clinics or mobile services. Parents can help by regularly checking for early signs of tooth decay. Lift the lip to check for white spots around the gum-line this is one sign of tooth decay as is a build up of yellow plaque on teeth.

Limit the sweet and sticky snacks your children eat. Give them a drink of water after eating sweet snacks. The more often they eat sweet food and drinks, such as lollies, cakes, biscuits, fruit juice and fizzy drinks, the more likely they are to get holes in their teeth.

There are clear inequalities in the oral health of New Zealand children, especially among children from low socioeconomic families. Most dental disease is preventable and there is enormous scope to reduce these inequalities.

Poor oral health in children can lead to a range of consequences such as difficulty eating, speaking, pain, high economic cost and a decrease in the quality of a child’s life. Serious and persistent dental problems can disrupt school, work and social life.

Dental caries (tooth decay) is a chronic, progressive, and largely irreversible disease. At a microscopic level, very early decay of tooth surfaces can be stopped and reversed. This is when good oral hygiene is important.

Good hygiene habits should start in pregnancy. This is a time when the mothers’ gums become more susceptible to disease due to the hormonal changes. Pregnant women therefore need to take special care of their teeth and gums to get rid of the bacteria that causes tooth decay. When babies are first born these bacteria are not present in the babies’ mouths, however as soon as the teeth come through the bacteria can be passed onto the babies. This is done by kissing, food tasting or cleaning the dummy or spoon with your own mouth.

Children should brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss once a day. If there are problems with your child to brush their teeth try and make it a fun activity for them to do. Set an example by brushing your teeth with them. Show them how to floss and make teeth cleaning a fun part of your daily routine. “It is important for adults to set good examples to the children by not only cleaning their own teeth properly but also by having their decayed teeth treated promptly to reduce the carriage and transfer of harmful decay causing bacteria” says Auckland Paediatrician Marguerite Dalton. “It is really important to start cleaning baby teeth as soon as they appear in the gums”

In areas where there is no fluoride in the water parents can add a fluoride supplement to their child’s diet. There is no substitute for fluoride toothpaste, brushing with this twice a day can help ensure that your child has healthy teeth in later life.

Children should also regularly visit a dental professional.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

Review: A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

The Royal New Zealand Ballet has accepted the challenge of this heart-touching tragedy and largely succeeded. More>>


NZ's First Male IAAF Gold: Tom Walsh's Historic Shot Put Victory

Although feeling very sore but with a great feeling Tom Walsh took his place as number one on the victory dais to receive his much deserved gold medal. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Q&A: Hard To Find Books

"Unfortunately we are in crisis and this friendly dinosaur faces extinction… Our only hope is to try and raise funds to buy the building and restore it to its glory, either fully funded or with a viable deposit." More>>

Kid Lit: Lost Mansfield Story Discovered At Wellington Library

Previously undiscovered letters and a story written by a young Katherine Mansfield were recently unearthed in Wellington City Library’s archives by a local author researching a book about the famous writer. More>>