Note from FAN: The Nelson-Marlborough district is not fluoridated.
The number of Marlborough children with cavity-free teeth has increased, new figures show.
Information provided by the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board shows the proportion of 5-year-olds without fillings in the Nelson/Marlborough region increased from 55 per cent in 2013 to 61 per cent in 2014.
There was also a rise in the percentage of year 8 students without tooth decay, from 54 per cent in 2013 to 60 per cent in 2014.
Nelson Marlborough District Health Board principal dental officer Dr Rob Beaglehole said there had been a significant increase in the number of children without fillings between 2013 and 2014.
“We’re moving in a positive direction.”
The drop in levels of decay was a tribute to the preventive approach being taken by the health board, Beaglehole said.
In 2012, a new community oral health service replaced the school dental service in Marlborough.
Under the old system, there were 36 clinics based at schools in the Nelson and Marlborough region.
Children would have their dentist appointments during school time, and their parents would not be involved in the appointment.
The new system involves preschool children and schoolchildren travelling to five dental hubs in the Nelson/Marlborough region with their parents.
Parents were given key messages about looking after their children’s dental health, Beaglehole said.
The only group within the region that had greater levels of tooth decay between 2013 and 2014 were Maori year 8 students living in Blenheim.
The proportion of children without decay in this group dropped from 60 per cent in 2013 to 50 per cent in 2014.
The health board would look at ways of addressing issues around access to dental services within this group, Beaglehole said.
Blenheim mother Tess Stephens said her three children Corbin, 7, Taliah, 6, and Dominic, 3, brushed their teeth twice a day.
Stephens tried to limit the fizzy drink and junk food in their diet.
“I want their teeth to be healthy for as long as possible.”
Neither Corbin, Taliah nor Dominic had fillings in their teeth.
The trend towards healthier teeth follows rising levels of tooth decay among children in the Nelson/Marlborough region between 2011 and 2013.
The proportion of Marlborough 5-year-olds with tooth decay rose from 33 per cent to 45 per cent over the two-year period.