Supporting good oral health for all

SmilingFaceChildThe South Canterbury District Health Board supports the Ministry of Health’s vision of good oral health for all, for life. Consequently the South Canterbury DHB funds a Child Nutrition and Oral Health Promoter position based at Community and Public Health’s Timaru office.

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

The South Canterbury Child Nutrition and Oral Health Promoter works with the community to create environments that promote good oral health from an early age, including:

  • supporting South Canterbury education settings to promote good oral health;
  • providing one-on-one dietary and dental health advice to families of children under 5 years at high risk for developing tooth decay (dental caries); and
  • working alongside other services to promote good oral health, such as Well Child Providers.

Look after your teeth no matter your age

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

Here are some helpful tips for a healthy smile:

  • Start to brush baby teeth as soon as they emerge.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Swish the toothpaste round your teeth before spitting it out.
  • Don’t rinse your mouth with water after brushing.
  • Floss at least once a day;
  • Visit a dentist or dental nurse for a check-up at least once a year.

Parents should watch or help their children to clean their teeth until they turn 8 years old.

Watch a video from the NZ Dental Association on how to clean your teeth.

Some other tips for healthy teeth include:

  • choosing healthy, teeth-friendly snacks;
  • drinking water and plain unflavoured milk;
  • limiting sugary foods and drinks and have only at main meal times;
  • drinking water or your clean teeth after meals; and
  • getting support to quitting smoking.

Free dental care for under 18s

Free dental care is available to New Zealand children and teenagers until they turn 18. Call 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583) to find out more.

The Community Dental Service provides free oral health services for all eligible children residing in the Canterbury and South Canterbury. Contact the Community Dental Service to enrol if you are new to Canterbury or South Canterbury (0800 846 983 or commdental[at]

The West Coast DHB provides free dental services for children and adolescents throughout the West Coast. Contact the West Coast School Dental Service for more information (03 769 7710 or 0800 825 583).



Download or order resources from the Community Health Information Centre.


For further information, contact:

Hacer Tekinkaya
Ph: +64 3 687 2621
Fax: +64 3 688 6091

Tooth Tips from Community and Public Health

Community and Public Health South Canterbury produced a series of oral health sheets to help parents and caregivers.

Order copies of dental and oral health resources from the Community Health Information Centre.

Page last updated: 16/03/2018

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