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New Zealanders brush dentists off

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New Zealanders brush dentists off
LEIPZIG, Germany/MANUKAU CITY and AUCKLAND, New Zealand: A nationwide survey has found that 35 per cent of women and 25 per cent of men in New Zealand postponed a visit to the dentist last year because of the recession. The poll undertaken by toothbrush manufacturer Oral-B revealed that the cutback was restricted to adults, as 3 per cent of parents admitted not postponing their child’s annual dental check-up.

The result is another setback for the country, which already has poor oral health. Despite efforts to improve access to dental services through National Health Targets, the utilisation of these services has declined in recent years to less than 60 per cent, according to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Health. The new findings show that dental visits are still of low priority for many people.

Commenting on the results, the President of the New Zealand Dental Association, Dr Mark Goodhew, urged New Zealanders to realise that by not having regular dental check-ups, they are putting their health at risk. He said that oral cancer, for example, could be detected early with regular dental check-ups. Gum disease is also possibly linked to heart disease, he said.

“Spending just NZ$90 to NZ$120 once a year on a check-up could save you thousands in the long-term,” Dr Goodhew explained. “A simple check-up might even save your life if you have something serious that’s picked up and can be treated”.

Besides oral-health expenditures, the poll also investigated other spending habits of New Zealanders during the current economic downturn. Tobacco companies’ profits, for example, are being affected, as a third of male smokers and nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of female smokers surveyed said they had cut back because of money worries.

Alcohol expenditure was also down, with a third of Kiwi drinkers surveyed saying they had cut back owing to financial concerns in the past year.

by Daniel Zimmermann, DTI

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