Col­gate teams up with Plun­ket and the New Zealand Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion to al­le­vi­ate New Zealand’s cav­ity count

Central Leader - - HEALTH& WELL-BEING -

Early childhood tooth de­cay is a com­mon and costly disease so Col­gate, Plun­ket and the New Zealand Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion (NZDA) are work­ing to­gether to es­tab­lish healthy oral hy­giene habits in Kiwi kids from a young age.

Col­gate gives a tooth­brush and tooth­paste to ev­ery new Plun­ket baby at their five month visit, along with ed­u­ca­tional re­sources for par­ents, in a bid to com­bat early childhood caries, also known as tooth de­cay or cav­i­ties.

Col­gate Sci­en­tific Af­fairs man­ager Re­becca Schip­per says oral disease and its con­se­quences like pain and self­con­scious­ness, can have a pro­found ef­fect on a per­son’s qual­ity of life and fu­ture abil­ity to gain em­ploy­ment, high­light­ing the im­por­tance of tak­ing care of chil­dren’s teeth.

‘‘The pro­por­tion of chil­dren vis­it­ing a den­tal pro­fes­sional each year is low­est in the two to four year old age bracket, but start­ing early with a fun, quick check up is a great way to pre­vent big­ger prob­lems,’’ she says.

‘‘Oral disease is one of the most pre­ventable chronic dis­eases in New Zealand. Vis­it­ing a den­tal pro­fes­sional and brush­ing twice a day with flu­o­ride tooth­paste could dra­mat­i­cally de­crease the preva­lence of cav­i­ties in Kiwi kids.

‘‘In com­mu­ni­cat­ing the im­por­tance of oral care to par­ents just be­fore that first tooth breaks through, we be­lieve we can keep many more kids smil­ing.’’

Plun­ket clin­i­cal ad­vi­sor Al­li­son Jamieson says, ‘‘We love be­ing part of this ini­tia­tive. Giv­ing ev­ery new Plun­ket baby their first tooth­brush and tooth­paste helps par­ents re­alise just how im­por­tant it is to start brush­ing as soon as those first teeth come through.

‘‘The ed­u­ca­tional re­sources are re­ally help­ful, and we’ve had a lot of pos­i­tive feed­back from fam­i­lies,’’ Jamieson says.

‘‘The in­for­ma­tion, pro­duced by Col­gate and the NZDA, shows fam­i­lies how de­cay pro­gresses, and how to spot signs of de­cay in the mouth, on teeth and around the gum line.

‘‘The re­sources demon­strate how to brush cor­rectly, and also help us to show par­ents and chil­dren why we check their teeth and gums, and what we’re look­ing for.’’

The Re­port of the Health Com­mit­tee also found worse oral health out­comes among chil­dren liv­ing in low so­cioe­co­nomic ar­eas, which Col­gate, Plun­ket and the NZDA are ad­dress­ing by pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional re­sources in ar­eas of need.

‘‘In ar­eas of par­tic­u­lar hard­ship, in ad­di­tion to the tooth­paste we can pro­vide ex­tra tooth­brushes for the other chil­dren in the fam­ily at a new baby’s five month Plun­ket visit,’’ Schip­per says.

Col­gate, Plun­ket and the NZDA have been in part­ner­ship since 2007, and have pro­vided ap­prox­i­mately 50,000 tooth­brushes and pastes to New Zealand in­fants each year since 2010.

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