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Big holes in dental health care

Big holes in dental health care

A Government target to have fewer Kiwi kids needing dental work has failed miserably with more than 5000 under 7 year olds having teeth taken out under general anaesthetic in the last year, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

“The Ministry of Health has a target of 65 per cent of children having no fillings at five years of age. However, the mean rate across all district health board regions is 57.4 per cent.

“The worst areas are Northland, Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti and Counties Manukau – regions with some of the lowest household incomes.

“New Zealand was the first country in the world to introduce a school dental service providing free care to children, yet in the year to December 2014 5050 kids had to have teeth removed under anaesthetic at a cost of $20.2 million.

“That is an absolute disgrace in this day and age.

“Severe tooth decay is one of the most common and costly diseases of childhood, and it is completely preventable.

“Adults are also putting off seeing a dentist, largely because of cost, with the result being more people – particularly those on low and fixed incomes - having to have teeth removed. Many are unable to afford dentures.

“Labour in Government made oral health a priority. Unfortunately National hasn’t.

Oral health affects overall health. The Government should recognise that and ensure all New Zealanders have access to cost-effective, preventive dental services.”


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