Oral health of children

This section provides the latest information about oral health of children living in fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas in New Zealand. Fluoride in drinking-water helps to prevent and reduce tooth decay.

On this page:

Children in fluoridated areas generally have better oral health
Oral health status differs by region

Children in fluoridated areas generally have better oral health

Children living in communities with fluoridated water generally had better oral health than other children.

In 2011, around 60 percent of 5-year-olds were caries free in their primary teeth. Rates were slightly higher in fluoridated communities (60 percent) than in non-fluoridated communities (59 percent).

More Māori and Pacific 5-year-olds were caries free in fluoridated communities than in non-fluoridated communities.

Figure 1

Similarly, children in year 8 (12–13-year-olds) were more likely to be caries free in their permanent teeth if they lived in fluoridated communities (55 percent) than in non-fluoridated communities (52 percent). This difference was particularly seen for Māori children.

Figure 2

The results of lifetime experience of decay (mean dmft and DMFT) also showed better oral health for children living in fluoridated areas.

Oral health status differs by region

In 2011, Capital and Coast district health board had the highest rates of caries free for 5-year-olds and Year 8 children.

For regional data and interactive maps, visit CPHROnline's oral health of children index webpage

Information about the data

Source: Ministry of Health [1]

In New Zealand, community oral health service collects oral health data for 5-year-old children and children in Year 8 (12–13-year-olds) [2]. Two measures of children’s oral health are:

  • percentage of children who are caries free
  • the lifetime experience of dental decay – measured as the number of decayed, missing or filled teeth, in primary teeth (dmft) or permanent teeth (DMFT).

For more data, go to the Ministry of Health 's oral health data and stats webpage

References

  1. Ministry of Health. 2011. Oral health data and stats 2011. URL: http://www.health.govt.nz/nz-health-statistics/health-statistics-and-data-sets/oral-health-data-and-stats (accessed 23 June 2014).
  2. Wright JC, Bates MN, Cutress T, Lee M. 2001. The cost‐effectiveness of fluoridating water supplies in New Zealand. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. 25(2):170-8.