Children need adults' encouragement to look after their teeth.
Dental disease is one of the most common preventable childhood diseases, and is particularly prevalent amongst Māori children. Contributing factors include eating foods high in sugar, not brushing teeth twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste, and not attending regular dental checkups. Baby teeth matter because pain affects a child's health, behaviour and education, and also because their condition affects the health of adult teeth.
A health needs analysis of Mataura by our Nursing students found that the problem is exacerbated there: 30% of the population is Māori, the water supply is not fluoridated, and the dental clinic has very limited availability so travel to Gore may be required.
To help improve children's dental health, the students developed a poster and a fridge magnet to encourage good care of teeth, and a tick chart to remind children to brush their teeth twice a day. These resources were distributed to the local community through the school. One of the students Angela McKnight says:
Our hope is to keep the conversation going surrounding dental caries among children and to also bring awareness about fluoridation of drinking water supply.
Image credit: Josh Mazgelis, used under Creative Commons licence CC BY NC ND 2.0