Every parent wants the best start in life for their child and good oral health plays an important part in that.

A healthy mouth affects a child’s development – helping them to eat and speak properly and later in life, a healthy smile will help with confidence and self-esteem.

Teeth need to be looked after from the day they arrive – this includes brushing, regular check-ups, choosing healthy snacks and choosing milk and water over other beverages.

Dental care is free: 

We are lucky here in New Zealand, children are entitled to free basic oral health services from birth to 17 years of age – right up until their 18th birthday.

You should enroll your child with your local Community Oral Health Service at birth or as soon as possible after that. Your midwife, doctor or Plunket nurse will be able to help you to enroll your child. The service is free and supports you and your whānau to care for your child’s teeth

How to enroll: 

It’s easy to enroll – just call 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583). They will guide you through what you need to do and send you the right forms for you to fill in.

Caring for your child’s teeth:

Your child’s teeth are at risk of tooth decay (holes) as soon as their teeth appear – this is usually at around 6 months. Tooth decay is easy to prevent by:

  • Brushing your child’s teeth twice a day with regular-strength fluoride toothpaste.
  • Ensuring that your child has a healthy diet that is low in sugar.
  • Ensuring that your child has regular dental check-ups from an early age.

Standard treatments:

Standard treatments are free and include:

  • Routine examination to check teeth for decay and look at the gums and mouth for any problems.
  • X-rays used to find tooth decay and other problems that can’t be seen.
  • Fluoride treatment, which helps make the surface of the teeth more resistant to decay.
  • Fissure sealants, which are a thin layer of white filling, painted onto teeth that are at risk of developing tooth decay.
  • Cleaning to plaque, staining and tartar from teeth.
  • Fillings to restore teeth that have been affected by tooth decay.
  • Extractions to remove teeth that have been badly affected by tooth decay.

Referral for extra treatments:

If your child needs extra treatments, you’ll be referred to another oral health service provider.

  • Many treatments will still be free, but you’ll need to pay for some treatments – such as orthodontics (which includes braces on teeth).
  • Talk to your local oral health service about the costs and payment options.

Keep checking and dental appointment tips!

Don’t wait for dental problems to arise; take your child for regular check-ups. Your dental therapist or dentist will let you know how often you need to take your child.

Remember, dental check-ups for young children mean problems are recognised and treated early.

  • Try to get an appointment for a time when your child isn’t tired.
  • Always be positive about dental visits. Use language such as ‘keeping your teeth healthy’ and ‘keeping your smile beautiful’.

A selection of Lumino dental practices provide private dental services for kids where they can receive treatment for all their dental needs. These dental treatments range from basic fillings as a part of the national free dental care service through to orthodontics at a cost to the patient.

Our Lumino dentists can also provide additional work that is required beyond the free dental treatments that kids and teens receive from providers of the Ministry of Education Free Oral Health Services Agreement. Call us today on 0508 586 466.