This month, Plunket and Colgate celebrate ten years of working together to promote healthy oral hygiene for all New Zealand children.
February is national Colgate Plunket Month, and it is more important than ever as, according to the New Zealand Oral Health Survey, dental decay remains the most prevalent chronic, and irreversible, disease in New Zealand and more than 40 per cent of two- to four-year-olds are not being seen by a dental professional.
Colgate Plunket Month aims to raise awareness of the importance of oral health while also supporting Plunket to make a difference on a local level.
Colgate will be donating 20 cents for every two Colgate products purchased at Countdown during the first week of February. Shoppers will also receive a free, fun and educational Dora and Diego kids toothbrushing chart at New World when they purchase two or more Colgate products between February 8 and 14.
Colgate will also continue to donate a toothbrush and toothpaste to every new Plunket baby at their five-month well child health assessment. So far, more than 700,000 toothbrushes and toothpastes have been provided to babies since 2007.
Plunket National Clinical Advisor Karen Magrath says that with so many pressures on parents when providing for their children, it is understandable that sometimes, other priorities can take the focus away from children’s oral health.
“Much of our work has a focus on supporting parents to improve children’s oral health by raising their awareness of the link between the diet and drinks they offer their children and their children’s oral health. Water or milk should be the first choice and juice or fizzy drinks should be kept for an occasional treat.
“Parents may also not realise that early childhood caries, also known as tooth decay and cavities, can lead to tooth pain and infection, adversely affecting children’s eating, growth and sleeping patterns.”
Magrath says that Plunket nurses see nine out of ten babies across the country, and with the support of Colgate, they are able to provide local communities with the information and tools they need to establish good oral hygiene habits for their families.
“We are still seeing too many young children with poor oral health but by providing more toothbrushes for families in higher need areas, Colgate is making a real difference.”
Colgate is delighted to have been working with Plunket since 2007 to promote healthy oral hygiene in New Zealand’s children, says Colgate New Zealand general manager John Garside.
“Colgate’s aim is to work with Plunket to help local communities and decrease the risk of tooth decay and cavities. Over the past decade, we have contributed 700,000 toothbrushes and toothpastes to this programme, and in 2016, we are focusing much of our support on high risk areas, where we believe we can make a real difference.”
Colgate, Plunket and the NZDA have worked together to compile a list of five tips for parents and caregivers to help them give their kids teeth the best start.
- Baby teeth are important. They do eventually fall out but until they do, baby teeth play an important role in helping your child bite and chew food, and speak clearly. Baby teeth also save space for the permanent teeth and help guide them into place.
- Clean their teeth in the morning and before going to bed at night. At some point, your child will want to brush his or her own teeth. It is important for children to learn to brush and it’s great to give your child a turn, but afterwards, you should always brush your child’s teeth a second time. Most children won’t be able to brush their teeth well on their own until they are about eight years old.
- Check your child’s teeth regularly to detect dental decay. The best way to do this is to lift back the lips to check for chalky white spots or lines on the tooth near the gum line. If you notice this on their teeth, take your child to a community dental clinic as soon as possible – dental care is free for children under 18 years.
- Plunket staff or other well child health providers can tell you how to contact your local community dental clinic and enrol your child. It’s important to commence regular dental check-ups from the moment your child’s first teeth appear. Community dental clinics are a free service and are often located within primary schools.
- Frequent consumption of sugary foods and drinks can cause early childhood caries. Avoid eating sugary foods in between meals. If your child eats sweet sticky foods, they are best eaten at mealtimes. Also, encourage your children to drink water during and at the end of their meals to wash out any remnant sugar.