Oral Health

Check out our oral health resources.

One in eight New Zealand young people (2 – 17 years) had time away from school or ECE last year due to problems with their teeth. For one in nine children, their parent took time off work in the last year due to problems with their child’s teeth or mouth. [1]

Good oral health is more than just having good teeth and a nice smile - it is important for good health and well-being.  Teeth are important for good nutrition, language development, and self-esteem.

Tooth decay is associated with speech development problems, difficulty sleeping, lost school days, and difficulty learning and concentrating. Most cases of tooth decay are preventable.

Establishing good oral health habits early has benefits over a child’s whole lifetime.  Tooth decay in baby teeth is associated with tooth decay in adult teeth, which in turn is associated with diabetes and heart disease.


What WAVE can do:

  • Incorporate oral health into the curriculum
  • Develop resources/guidelines to support good oral health behaviours
  • Support settings to develop an environment that promotes good oral health
  • Support settings to engage with parents/whānau and wider community
  • Provide professional development on oral health

Check out this video on how WAVE helped Rural Scholars Early Learning Centre with their Oral Health programme.

Oral health support for under fives in South Canterbury

The South Canterbury District Health Board funds the ‘Child Nutrition and Oral Health Promoter’ to work with the South Canterbury community to create environments that promote good oral health from an early age.  This includes:

  • working with WAVE to support ECE (and other settings) to promote good oral health;
  • providing one-on-one dietary and oral health consultations/home visits to families of children aged under five years, who are at high risk for developing tooth decay; and
  • working alongside other services to promote good oral health, such as Well Child Providers.


Oral Health Days 

Does your setting celebrate oral health days?

  • World Oral Health Day
    World Oral Health Day is celebrated globally on 20 March.  For more information and resources, visit www.worldoralhealthday.org

    WOHD Icon
  • National Oral Health Day
    The National Oral Health Day is celebrated on the first Friday of November.  New Zealanders are encourage to ditch the sugary drinks and 'Switch to Water' for the month of November.  For more information and resources, visit www.nzda.org.nz  

    Switch To Water Challenge


Baby Teeth Matter - brush them 2x a day 

Baby teeth are important and necessary for the health of permanent teeth, and parents and caregivers are encouraged to brush their little one's teeth twice a day with flouride toothpaste.

Check out the Baby Teeth Matter video:


FREE Dental Care for Under 18s

The Community Dental Service provides FREE dental care to eligible children living in South Canterbury or Canterbury from birth until School Year 8.  If you are new to the region you need to enrol with the Community Dental Service.  To enrol or to make an appointment contact the Community Dental Service: 0800 TINTY TEETH (846 983) or commdental@cdhb.health.nz

Teenagers can have a FREE dental check-up from a local dentist until their 18th birthday if they are at school, on a course, working or looking for work. Call 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583) for more information or freedentalcare@cdhb.health.nz.  To find a dentist in South Canterbury click here


Tooth Tips 

Tooth Tips for mums to be
Tooth Tips for babies
Tooth Tips for babies and children
Tooth Tips for toddlers and young children

Tooth Tips for young children

Tooth Tips (1)


Useful links:

www.cph.co.nz - Looking after your teeth whatever the age, Community & Public Health (Canterbury)

www.cph.co.nz/order-resources - Order or download oral health posters and pamphlets from Community & Public Health

www.cdhb.health.nz - Community Dental Service

www.nzda.org.nz - New Zealand Dental Association

www.letstalkteeth.co.nz - Caring for baby teeth, Ministry of Health

www.health.govt.nz/oral-health - Guide to oral health services

www.health.govt.nz/teeth-and-gums - How to care for teeth and gums

www.fluoridefacts.govt.nz - Facts on community water fluoridation


[1] Ministry of Health. (2010). Our oral health: Key findings of the 2009 New Zealand oral health survey. Wellington, New Zealand.