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.
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).
On this page:
Children living in communities with fluoridated drinking-water generally had better oral health than children living in non-fluoridated communities.
In 2014, around 59 percent of 5-year-olds were caries-free in their primary teeth. Rates were slightly higher in fluoridated communities (61 percent) than in non-fluoridated communities (56 percent).
More Māori and Pacific Island 5-year-olds were caries-free in fluoridated communities than in non-fluoridated communities in 2014. The largest difference can be seen for Māori children.
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 (60 percent) than in non-fluoridated communities (56 percent). This difference was particularly seen for Māori children.
In 2014, the Capital and Coast district health board had the highest percentages of caries-free 5-year-olds and Year 8 children. Around 70 percent of children were caries-free in this region.
In general, children in the South Island were more likely to be caries-free than children in the North Island.
Figure 3: Percentage of 5-year old children that are caries-free, 2014
Figure 4: Percentage of children in Year 8 that are caries-free, 2014
Between 2000 and 2014, the percentage of children that were caries-free increased. Improvements can be seen in fluoridated as well as non-fluoridated communities.
The percentage of children in Year 8 that were caries-free increased from 42 percent in 2000 to 58 percent in 2014. In the same time frame, the percentage of 5-year old children that are caries-free increased from 52 percent to 59 percent.
Between 2000 and 2014, the mean number of decayed, missing or filled permanent teeth of children in Year 8 dropped from 1.6 to 1.0 tooth. The mean number of decayed, missing or filled primary teeth of 5-year old children increased between 2000 and 2007, from 1.8 to 2.3 teeth. The number decreased since 2008 and is now at the same level as 2000 (dmft of 1.8)
5-year old children had, on average, 1.8 decayed, missing or filled primary teeth in 2014.
In general, children that live in communities with access to fluoridated drinking-water had a lower mean number of decayed, missing or filled teeth.
Information about the data
In New Zealand, the community oral health service collects oral health data for 5-year-old children and children in Year 8 (12–13-year-olds) .
For more data, go to the Ministry of Health 's oral health data and stats webpage.
- Ministry of Health. 2014. Oral health data and stats 2014. URL: http://www.health.govt.nz/nz-health-statistics/health-statistics-and-data-sets/oral-health-data-and-stats/age-5-and-year-8-oral-health-data-community-oral-health-service (accessed 30 November 2016).