NZDA statement on National Party Health discussion document Oral Health
For attribution to Dr Katie Ayers, President, New Zealand Dental Association:
We welcome the Opposition’s focus on child dental health. The New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) has long highlighted
the 120,000 children overdue for dental check-ups, and over 40,000 children having teeth extracted due to tooth decay
each year. Last year alone, 7000 kids under 12 had to leave their parents in waiting rooms for hospital operating
theatres to be put under general anaesthetic to have teeth pulled.
This is a system that needs a lot more resources, including better disease prevention services and measures. However,
money is not the only solution here, there is a limited pool of oral health professionals, and a cash boost does not
NZDA is willing to discuss the Scottish system National have highlighted. It has benefits and it has drawbacks. We can
show that there are other less expensive preventive measures that will also hugely improve the dental health of New
Zealand kids, community water fluoridation being an obvious one.
NZDA recently presented to National a comprehensive, affordable and stepwise plan to improve access to dental care for
low income New Zealand adults. It is extremely disappointing that National does not even mention this highly significant
issue within their discussion document. Our hope is that the Government will be considerably more receptive and early
indications are that they might be.
As dentists and as a profession we continually hear from both sides of the House that they support the Health
(Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Bill, introduced to the House three years ago. Whilst it does not even rate a
mention in the discussion document it is our sincere hope that all MPs, particularly those interested in markedly
improving oral health in a safe and effective way, will move beyond their political impasse and pass this Bill swiftly.