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Biggest ever survey of New Zealanders' teeth

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Health

13 July 2006 Media Release

Biggest ever survey of New Zealanders' teeth

The government's major investment in oral health will be matched by the biggest survey of the state of our teeth in New Zealand's history, Health Minister Pete Hodgson announced today.

The survey – the first to be conducted in nearly 20 years – will get underway later this month and will involve 7,000 participants.

"The Labour-led government has worked hard to reinvest in New Zealand's oral health services," Pete Hodgson said. "In the 90s, National failed to invest in school dental clinics, failed to replace ageing equipment and even stopped training dental nurses altogether.

"The result has been a deterioration in the state of our children's teeth – especially in rural areas and among Maori and Pacific Island children.

"I announced in this year's budget that $40 million will be invested to revamp our oral health services. It's important that as we work to improve services we get a good idea of exactly what is needed and where we're making progress – the survey I'm announcing today will allow us to do just that.

"There's currently very little recent national oral health data. We have good information on children aged 5 and 12 years collected by the school dental service, but no data on children at other ages, adolescents, and adults. Information about minority groups is particularly sparse.

"We know from international research that oral health needs are changing. In particular, more and more people are keeping their teeth as they age. We also know that oral health may be linked to other chronic health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease. What we don't know is the signficance of this in New Zealand. We currently don't even really know what New Zealanders think about oral health.

"We're aiming to hold these surveys every 10 years so we can measure how changes to child and adolescent oral health benefits the adults of the future."

The survey is expected to include approximately 7,000 participants and take 12 -18 months to complete at a cost of $1.5 million. The sample for the survey will include participants from all regions and ethnic groups.


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