The New Zealand Medical Association is joining the call for a comprehensive and affordable dental service to be made available to all New Zealanders.
“Dental decay remains the most prevalent chronic, yet reversible, disease in New Zealand, and significant disparities exist in oral health in New Zealand. While children have access to free dental care this is an issue for all age groups including older New Zealanders and cost is a major barrier, says Dr Kate Baddock, Chair of the NZMA. “We know that Māori and Pasifika have worse oral health outcomes as well as those living in areas of higher socioeconomic deprivation - this is an equity issue that must be addressed.”
“We must also move to a prevention approach for oral health. This includes taking bold action on the issue of high sugar diets, in particular sugary drinks, and fluoridation as well as encouraging all adults to visit the dentist for regular check-ups instead of waiting until they have a dental problem.”
“In New Zealand we have long known the impact of poor oral health on the nation and as far back as 2009 there were calls to integrate oral health into funded primary care. This is a conversation that should not be delayed further. It is a health priority, says Dr Baddock.