Young kids suf­fer­ing from high amount of tooth de­cay

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - JARED NI­COLL

Porirua’s Pasi­fika chil­dren are far more likely than the na­tional av­er­age to suf­fer tooth de­cay.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port pre­pared for Porirua City Coun­cil, the amount of lo­cal Pasi­fika five-year-olds with de­cay in their baby teeth is 61 per cent; for Maori chil­dren it is 51 per cent, while the other eth­nic­i­ties are at 25 per cent.

The over­all na­tional rate is 43 per cent. About 29,000 chil­dren na­tion­wide, aged 1 to 14, had teeth re­moved due to de­cay, an ab­scess, in­fec­tion or gum dis­ease last year.

Den­tists blame the high rate of de­cay on sug­ary drinks, and warn it could be just ‘‘the ca­nary in the cage’’ in­di­cat­ing other se­ri­ous health con­cerns such as di­a­betes.

NZ Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion spokesman Rob Bea­gle­hole said all schools in Porirua needed to adopt wa­ter-only poli­cies.

‘‘We know from data that Pasi­fika [peo­ple] are be­ing ham­mered in terms of obe­sity and car­dio-vas­cu­lar dis­ease.’’

Poverty was a ‘‘ma­jor risk-fac­tor,’’ he said.

Su­per­mar­ket shelves of­ten sold large bot­tles of coke, which could sell for less per litre than milk or fruit juice.

The coun­cil re­port showed that poor oral health was a lead­ing cause of po­ten­tially-avoid­able hospi­tal ad­mis­sions for Porirua chil­dren un­der the age of five.

Be­tween 2015 and 2016, 103 Porirua kids un­der that age were ad­mit­ted to Welling­ton Hospi­tal with den­tal prob­lems.

Mana MP Kris Faafoi said kinder­gartens in the area were work­ing hard to help teach par­ents about their chil­dren’s oral health.

‘‘It’s not just Pasi­fika peo­ple, but it’s clear across the board,’’ he said.

‘‘If you’ve got bad teeth, it can be a pre­cur­sor to [other] health prob­lems so fam­i­lies need to get on to this issue faster.’’

Ti­tahi Bay School prin­ci­pal Kerry De­laney said athough her school did not have a big issue with tooth de­cay, it stopped al­low­ing sug­ary drinks about five years ago.

‘‘We are lucky that our whanau have the den­tal cen­tre on our site.’’

NZ Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion Welling­ton Branch Pres­i­dent Dr David McKelvey said changes the coun­cil could look at in­cluded wa­ter-only poli­cies at its fa­cil­i­ties and events.

‘‘Along­side the ther­a­pists in the Bee Healthy Den­tal ser­vice, our mem­bers in the area are hav­ing to treat kids and par­ents suf­fer­ing from the ef­fects of sug­ary and acid drink ex­po­sure, and re­duc­ing con­sump­tion would ben­e­fit our pa­tients of all ages.’’

Bee Healthy Welling­ton Re­gional Den­tal Ser­vice spokes­woman Kathryn Fuge said the ser­vice was tri­alling a mo­bile check-up van at Ora­toa clinic in Can­nons Creek dur­ing the school hol­i­days, ‘‘so fam­i­lies can bring their chil­dren there if it suits them bet­ter’’.

‘‘We’ve started visit­ing many of the preschools in the Porirua area to do check-ups and this is work­ing re­ally well. ‘‘

Fam­i­lies did not have to wait un­til their child turned two or un­til they had a check-up at school to get in touch.

‘‘All it takes is a call to our 0800 num­ber and we can book them in. Den­tal care is free for chil­dren un­til they turn 18 years.’’

Fig­ures in the coun­cil re­port came from the Bran­don Hub Den­tal Clinic and Ti­tahi Bay Den­tal Hub Clinic. It in­cludes mo­biles for the Porirua schools that go out from these hubs.

MAR­ION VAN DIJK

NZ Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion spokesman Dr Rob Bea­gle­hole says chil­dren should only have up to three tea­spoons of sugar a day.

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