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World Oral Health Day, 12 September 2012

Media Release:

World Oral Health Day, 12 September 2012

The Ministry of Health’s chief dental officer says there are still many children and young people missing out on free health care that can set them up for life.

Dr Robyn Haisman-Welsh said oral health care for children and young people under 18 is free – and people need to make sure to use it.

Dr Haisman-Welsh – speaking at a World Oral Health Day event at Cobham School in Gisborne – said having healthy teeth at a young age is a strong predictor of having good oral health in adulthood.

New Zealand has, for many years, had free dental services for under-18s, and district health boards are just completing the Government’s major reinvestment programme.

It has injected $116 million in capital and $36 million annual operational funding to refresh and modernise child and adolescent oral health services.

District health boards are working hard to reach the 37 percent of children under-five that are not yet enrolled in the service, and the 28 per cent of teenagers that are not using free services.

Dr Haisman-Welsh said the state of the oral health of New Zealanders has improved over the last 20 years “and we can still benefit a lot more. Tooth decay is largely preventable. There are simple things we can all do to prevent it”.

Tips for good oral health

Teeth play an important part in everyone’s health and wellbeing. They affect how we look, speak, and chew and can influence how we feel about ourselves and enjoy life.

Baby teeth matter too – they are important for childhood development in terms of nutrition, speech, confidence, and wellbeing, as well as guiding the permanent teeth into position.

Some top tips for good oral health for all age groups are:

• Brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste before bed, and in the morning.
• Visiting the dentist or dental therapist regularly for check-ups.
• Flossing, eating a healthy diet that is low in sugar, drinking water or milk and stopping smoking.
• Reduce how often we have sugary food and drink.

To give our children the best possible oral health start for life, brush baby teeth using a small smear of fluoride toothpaste once they come up through the gum.

Dr Haisman-Welsh urges all parents, caregivers and whanau to ensure their children are enrolled with the Community Oral Health Service from very early in life and to take an active role in their child’s oral health every day.

“We want our New Zealand children to enjoy good oral health and the lifetime benefits that go with getting it right early in life”.

More information is available on the Ministry’s website:

World Oral Health Day (WOHD) background

The FDI World Dental Federation established World Oral Health Day following an initiative of the FDI’s World Dental Development and Health Promotion Committee.

The aim of this commemorative day is to provide an occasion for global, regional and national activities to increase awareness for oral health, as well as the impact of oral diseases on general health, well-being and national economies.

The New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) has organised various oral health activities to commemorate WOHD 2012 in New Zealand, including:

• Wrigley Company Foundation NZDA Community Service Grants aimed at improving access to oral care and oral health education of disadvantaged communities
(for details of successful grants, see,
• WOHD Event Funding for Schools and Early Childhood Education Services to organise a range of events and activities to raise awareness about oral health.
• a WOHD Video Competition supported by NZDA and Colgate Palmolive for the most creative videos by our young people that demonstrate the importance of healthy eating, effective home oral care and regular dental visits for maintaining healthy teeth and gums.


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