‘Heartbreaking’: Two-thirds of Pacific kids have tooth decay by age 5

0
32


Pacific kids are twice as likely to have tooth decay at age 5 than non-Māori, non-Pacific kids, a figure a dentist says is “heartbreaking”.

The Bula Sautu: Pacific health in the year of Covid-19 report, published in July, showed 64 per cent of 5-year-old Pacific children have tooth decay, compared with 31 per cent of non-Pacific, non-Māori children.

Pacific children aged 1-14 were nearly twice as likely to have had teeth removed due to decay, an abscess, infection or gum disease in the past 12 months than non-Pacific children, it said.

A Pasifika public health dentist said the findings were “alarming and heartbreaking”. (File photo)

Dr Katie Ayers/SUPPLIED

A Pasifika public health dentist said the findings were “alarming and heartbreaking”. (File photo)

New Zealand Dental Association member and Pasifika public health dentist Dr Tule Fanakava Misa said the findings were “alarming and heartbreaking”.

READ MORE:
* Pacific health report calls for urgent system change amid massive inequities
* How New Zealanders are unknowingly contributing to the tooth decay ‘epidemic’
* 23 children and teens a day hospitalised for dental care, as water fluoridation bill flounders
* From grin to grimace: The pain of paying for adult dental care

“Pasifika dental health concerns should not be forgotten, and these data show just how bad the inequities and inequalities have become,” Misa, who practises in Christchurch, said.

Dr Tule Fanakava Misa said good oral health is a basic right, but not a right all people can afford.

Supplied

Dr Tule Fanakava Misa said good oral health is a basic right, but not a right all people can afford.

By age 5, Pacific children have, on average, 5.25 decayed, missing and filled teeth, compared with 4.10 teeth in non-Māori/Pacific children.

Pacific children also have a much higher rate of potentially avoidable hospitalisations for dental conditions at ages 0-4 – 1397 per 100,000 people, versus 554 per 100,000 for non-Māori and non-Pacific children.

Good oral health is a “basic right … no matter what colour [a child] is. But that’s obviously not what I see,” Misa said.

Pacific children have higher rates of dental decay and hospitalisations for dental issues than non-Pacific.

John Bisset/Stuff

Pacific children have higher rates of dental decay and hospitalisations for dental issues than non-Pacific.

While dental services are free until a child’s 18th birthday, there are other barriers which make it difficult to seek care: parents not being able to take time off to get to a clinic, and having “limited” choices in what healthy food they can afford, she said.

Compared with other ethnicities, Pacific children also experience higher rates of asthma and skin and ear infections, often associated with poverty and overcrowding.

When the report was released, Pacific public health expert Dr Collin Tukuitonga said for years, Pacific people had been denied their right to health and wellbeing.

Collin Tukuitonga, associate professor of public health at the University of Auckland, said Pacific peoples have to navigate through a health system not designed for them.

David White/Stuff

Collin Tukuitonga, associate professor of public health at the University of Auckland, said Pacific peoples have to navigate through a health system not designed for them.

“Pacific peoples are expected to navigate through a health system that has not been designed with or for them,” Tukuitonga said at the time.

“Many have to effectively look after themselves, as it is impossible for them to overcome the many barriers to accessing healthcare.”

He said the findings reflect systematic bias and racism in New Zealand’s health and disability system, and the lack of diversity in the health workforce.



Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here