Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


New oral health statistics worst on record

20 August 2006

New oral health statistics worst on record

Data showing a decline in the oral health of New Zealand five year olds is a reminder of what is lost when a government fails to invest in families, Health Minister Pete Hodgson said today.

The latest oral health statistics show that the number of five year olds without missing, filled or decayed teeth has continued to decline since the mid-1990s. In 2004, only 52 per cent of five year olds were 'caries free' – this figure is now lower than the average for the 1990s.

Pete Hodgson also released initial data from Northland District Health Board for 2005 showing that the number of five year olds who are caries free has reached 31 per cent – the worst figure since records began in 1990.

Pete Hodgson said that the National Party's failure to invest in oral health services in the 1990s – and their decision to suspend training of dental therapists – had led to a shameful deterioration in the health of children that the government is only now in a position to address.

"The health of children should be a top priority for any government," Pete Hodgson said. "But in the 1990s, the National Government made a series of decisions that led to a decline in public dental services – we're now seeing the evidence that they led to a dramatic deterioration in the health of our children.

"After the number of dental therapists fell by around half during the 1990s, the Labour-led government moved immediately to re-institute the training of dental therapists and opened new training schools in 2001 and 2002. With the first graduates entering the field now, we can reinvest in oral health services with the confidence that there will be a workforce to support them.

"With the decline in oral health status continuing, the need for re-investment could not be more urgent. In May's budget I announced that the Labour-led government would invest $40 million in oral health services over the next four years on top of $100 million in capital spending.

"I'll soon announce the details of significant changes to the way we deliver public oral health services."

Pete Hodgson has previously announced that an improvement in health services for children was one of his top priorities for the 2006/07 financial year.

Attached: Summary of latest oral health statistics

Contact: Jason Knauf, Press Secretary, (04) 471 9918 or (021) 719 881, email:,

Oral health of New Zealand five year olds

In 2004 (the last year with complete national data), the oral health of young New Zealanders continued the decline it began in 1996-97.

- Only 52 per cent of five year olds were caries free (without missing, decayed or filled teeth) – this figure is lower than the average for the 1990s

- Children in fluoridated regions faired far better than children in non-fluoridated regions

- Maori and Pacific children, and children in rural areas have significantly worse oral health than the national average
- Complete 2004 data is available at

Pete Hodgson has also released initial data from 2005 for three district health boards. The data shows remarkable inequalities across regions and ethnicities.

- In Northland, only 31 per cent of 5 year olds are caries free – the worst figure since records began in 1990

- For Maori five year olds in Northland, only 14.3 per cent are caries free, while the figure for Pacific children is only slightly better at 25 per cent

- Hawke's Bay children are significantly closer to the national average, but still only 47.8 per cent of five year olds in the region are without decayed teeth – the figures for Maori and Pacific children are 28.5 and 33.8 per cent respectively

- The Hutt Valley has significantly better oral health than the rest of New Zealand – 66 per cent of five year olds are caries free

- Still, both Maori and Pacific children have significantly worse oral health than others in the Hutt Valley, with around 50 per cent of both groups with decayed, missing or filled teeth


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Decision Day: Peters Chooses Labour

Winston Peters says he will form a Government in coalition with Labour and the Greens giving confidence and supply.

Peters said he had been offered the position of Deputy Prime Minister and a number of other ministerial posts would go to his colleagues

He said economic and monetary policy changes were needed to face a coming economic downturn.>>>More


Labour on its agreement |Peters: Post-Election Announcement Speech | Greenpeace “cautiously hopeful” about new Government | ACT - Madman on the loose | E tū ecstatic | Chamber welcomes the outcome


Climate: Increasing Greenhouse Emissions Hit NZ

New Zealand is seeing impacts of excess greenhouse gas emissions in our climate and oceans, according to the latest national report from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ about the state of the atmosphere and climate…More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>


Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>


Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>


Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>


Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>




Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election