These are the facts which led us to doing something proactive & why we began donating our biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes.
No toothbrush means poor oral hygiene, decayed teeth and gum disease. This goes on to mean so much more.
Our NZ kids are increasingly being admitted to hospital for General Anaesthetics (GA) for dentistry. Frequently to have all their teeth removed. I’ve done this to these kids. It’s a horrific job to do, but it does ultimately improve their health. I’ve cried to myself, I’ve cried with the parents, I’ve offered ridiculous advice, advice that is correct, but simply not applicable to these families.
NZ Dental Association spokesperson Dr Rob Beaglehole states “you can clearly map out tooth decay rates with not only ethnicity, but also by postcode, it is a disease of poverty”
Estimates of numbers requiring GAs have increased from 4500 to 6600 per year over a 15 year period. Each GA costs up to $4000 each. In 2016 this cost us $14.7 million. Total cost of hospital dental care in 2016 – nearly $46 million. That’s a big number.
What is not monitored easily is what is the actual long term cost of poor oral hygiene. Ever had a real toothache? How grumpy, lacking in sleep, unable to function were you? Now imagine that continuing day after long day, with relief only coming after a long wait on the hospital wait list (this can be months). Imagine this as a child that is trying to learn, to grow, to act appropriately. Bet you weren’t on your best behaviour with a raging toothache.
The effects of poor oral hygiene.
Things we definitely know about the effects of poor oral hygiene are:
Extractions of baby teeth frequently lead to crooked and crowded teeth as an adult. Crowding leads to orthodontics if you can afford it. Crowded teeth or bad teeth leads to less success in society, lower incomes, poorer job opportunities. Job candidates with straight good teeth are 45% more likely to be employed than those with crooked or bad teeth. Interesting fact.
Decay can damage the developing permanent teeth – meaning more dental care in the future. And if you can’t afford it – more pain, less functioning in society.
Increased risk of other infections – these kids are sickly. Their little immune systems are in overdrive and not keeping up. They will catch every bug that goes around.
Risk of heart disease is significantly increased. Add to this that many of these kids may have Rheumatic Fever, another disease of poverty common in New Zealand. A mouth full of bacteria and infection can further damage the heart valves affected by Rheumatic Fever, increasing the risk of needing heart valve replacements.
Increased respiratory disease.
Diabetes risk is increased, plus if you have diabetes – this becomes harder to manage with a grotty mouth.
Increased risk of Stroke.
Increased risk of Dementia – yeah I hear you, these are older people’s diseases, but kids with poor oral hygiene are already on the road to being predisposed to all of these. And what is that cost going to be to them, their families and to us as a community?
There is no denying that much of this comes from drinking crap drinks. However- it also comes from not being able to afford toothbrushes and toothpaste. Giving a child a toothbrush gives them pride, you want to see their little faces light up when they have something of their very own.
So ……donating bamboo toothbrushes
It’s a small thing to do – but it is significant. It can affect lives.
For every full price bamboo toothbrush sold we will donate one. We selected bamboo toothbrushes as they are better for the environment by being sustainable and biodegradable.