Up to half of Kiwi kids have rotting teeth

New Zealanders have ‘appalling’ dental health, according to the New Zealand Dental Association’s Dr Rob Beaglehole.

Speaking to Breakfast on National Oral Health Day this morning, Beaglehole said approximately half of five-year-olds in New Zealand have teeth that are rotting.

He says it’s also not uncommon for babies as young as 18 months to have rotten teeth removed in hospital.

“We know that number one risk factor for holes in your teeth is sugary drinks, we also know that the number one reason New Zealanders aged under 30 get their sugar is from the sugary drinks.”

He says this is why the Dental Association is keen to encourage all Kiwis to switch sugary drinks to water for the month of November and beyond.

If people don’t have good oral health, they don’t have good general health, Beaglehole said.

“We also know the issue about sugar, it doesn’t just affect your teeth, it also contributes to weight gain, obesity and type 2 diabetes.”

He says another thing the Dental Association is encouraging is for schools to adopt a water-only policy.

“It makes absolutely no sense for our schools to be selling sickness to kids in the form of sugary drinks.

“So what we’re calling on is schools to adopt water-only policies. Ideally it would be good for the Government and the Minister of Education also to encourage schools to adopt these water-only policies, it doesn’t make any sense.”

Beaglehole also says a sugar tax to be discussed further.

“The evidence is unequivocal, if you increase the price of a product, including sugary drinks, you get a dramatic reduction in consumption, thus, a reduction on tooth decay, obesity and type 2 diabetes.”

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