November 08, 2012
Toothache putting tamariki in hospital
There's a warning that the disproportionate number of Maori preschoolers ending up in Wellington hospitals because of toothache points to a national problem.
Capital and Coast Health is today considering what it should do about an increasing number of Maori and Pacific children not having free scheduled dental examinations on time.
Professor Murray Thomson, the Head of Dental Public Health at Otago University, says tooth decay was the main reason young children are admitted to hospital and operated on under general anaesthetic.
He says the problem of poor oral health among tamariki and rangatahi is complex.
"The measures we take as a nation to combat obesity and smoking are also likely to improve oral health, not because the exact mechanisms are the same but because these illnesses are produced by the same household conditions, the same social and economic conditions. For example, the ridiculous price difference between milk and soft drinks. Toothpaste is expensive," Professor Thompson says.
Several iwi have established oral health services so they can tackle the problem in their areas.
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