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Oral and Dental Disease

Finding the root cause.

Dental decay is the most chronic childhood disease in New Zealand, with more than 50 per cent of under-fives having decay which can severely impact their short and long-term health.
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Why is it a problem?

Why is it a problem?

Dental disease reduces general health and quality of life, and affects other aspects of life including:

  1. nutrition
  2. sleep
  3. educational performance
  4. confidence
  5. mental and physical wellbeing, and development.

So good oral health is really important for children of all ages!

How does it happen?

Tooth decay occurs when mouth bacteria produce acids that soften the outer covering (enamel) of the tooth. Progression of decay can lead to pain and difficulty with eating, sleeping, and concentrating.

What are 'bad teeth'?

For children with severe tooth decay, delaying dental visits can lead to further deterioration, and treatment may eventually require hospitalisation. Rates of hospitalisation for dental services in New Zealand illustrate the need for earlier access to treatment for severe cases of dental decay.

Did you know?

Dental decay is the most widespread non-communicable disease worldwide making it a major public health issue.

What can be done?

Research suggests that oral hygiene practices and diet can minimise the growth of damaging mouth bacteria. Since the bacteria convert sugar into acids, reducing sugar can inhibit tooth decay. Use of fluoride toothpaste can also minimise tooth decay, particularly in regions where the water supply is not fluoridated.

Why does fluoride matter?

  • Fluoride strengthens the surface of teeth to make them more resistant to decay.
  • Fluoride delays and inhibits the growth of the bacteria which cause cavities.
  • Fluoride helps to repair the early stages of tooth decay.

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