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Pulling Teeth For Poverty

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, June 17th, 2018 - 363 comments
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People living in poverty are losing an average of six times more teeth by the age of 38, than people from wealthier backgrounds. A recent article highlights how poverty is driving poor people to take desperate measures to manage their own health issues. It describes a situation where a father, unable to afford to go to the dentist, took to using pliers and then a drill to remove his own teeth but still suffered the consequences two years later. Dentists say these  ‘do it yourself’ style tooth extractions are common.

Another article shows that an extraordinary number of children are admitted to hospitals because of tooth decay. While the article fails to discuss the socio-economic elements of the problems they’re seeing, it is a no brainer that poverty is driving this problem. In fact, a recent report identifies that “[t]ooth decay is a disease of poverty – poorer members of society have significantly worse oral health than the wealthy”. There are even babies as young as 12 months old having teeth pulled out because of tooth decay. Some may argue that parents are responsible for what is happening to their children’s teeth or point out that we have ‘free’ dental clinics for under 18 year olds, however these types of criticisms ignore whether or not people have the resources to access these ‘free’ services (which is a whole other debate) or a healthy diet, especially given it’s cheaper to buy a bottle of fizzy drink than it is to buy a bottle of milk.

New Zealand’s ‘third world’ dental problems are so common that dentists have started a charity called ‘Revive a Smile’  and now a petition calling for Government to subsidise dental treatment, increase the age of ‘free’ dental care and remove GST from dental services.

The affordability of dental care and the impact this has on poor people is another example of how poverty is killing people. While I realise these type of statements may be controversial, as I have shown elsewhere there is substantial evidence to show that poor people are dying because of lack of resources, and poverty related dental problems are no exception. Untreated dental conditions can lead to more serious health conditions, including heart disease, stroke and a host of other health conditions, including depression and poor mental health.

Meanwhile, despite widespread concern about this chronic health problem, successive Labour and National led Governments have largely ignored the decaying teeth of our poorest families. While Work and Income make some provision for emergency dental treatment of $300 per year, it is not sufficient to cover the costs associated with long term dental decay and neglect. To add to that, over the last 20 odd years, successive Governments have not seen fit to increase the emergency dental grant amount, which has remained the same since 1996.

While the grant exists, it appears that Work and Income take a miserly approach to those seeking additional special needs grants to cover dental costs. In recent times I have dealt with cases where dentists or their administrators have not bothered with the necessary paper work, leaving people having to foot the dental bill (usually extractions because it’s cheaper) out of their food budget. I have also experienced instances where Work and Income have made it so difficult to access the payment that people simply give up and manage the problem with the only means available to them.

While adults are suffering and dealing with the impact of significant pain (coupled with all of the problems associated with that),  thousands of children (29,000 in 2015/16 period), are similarly affected. Children whose dental problems will likely  go on to haunt them into their adult years because of the numerous associated and compounding problems playing a significant role in their future physical and psychological health.

Poor dental health is another example of how poverty has become so expensive for poor people, it’s not just costing them an arm and a leg, it’s costing them their teeth. To add insult to injury, while they’re paying for their poverty with their teeth, we’ve made it so hard for the poor, that they even have to extract those teeth themselves.


363 comments on “Pulling Teeth For Poverty ”

  1. Ed 1

    The government should be taxing the sugary food and drinks industry heavily to pay for this.

    • koreropono 1.1

      Supposedly sugar taxes are regressive and ineffective https://www.fooddrinktax.eu/sugar-taxes-ineffective-proves-new-study/ – removing GST off fruit and vegetables may be a good start.

      • JessNZ 1.1.1

        I agree about promoting fruits and veg via cost breaks, but I wouldn’t trust the Institute of Economic Affairs to judge whether it’s time to give up on taxation as a method of moderating consumer behaviour. Your linked article only indicated that currently consumers just shift to other nontaxed choices, which means the taxes aren’t being applied effectively.

        This article discusses the sugar tax issue more comprehensively. http://theconversation.com/sugar-tax-what-you-need-to-know-94520

        Would you stop taxing cigarettes?

        • The Chairman

          As for taxing as a method of moderating consumer behaviour, taxes would have to be rather high to deter the well off. And rather high consumer taxes hammer the poor. Therefore, there would have to be safeguards such as lowering the cost of the preferred alternatives.

          “Would you stop taxing cigarettes? “

          Yes. The resulting unintended consequences of taxing tobacco are widespread and just as bad, if not worse.

          • Ed

            Make $100 of fruit and vegetables free each week.
            And tax sugar – heavily.
            A bottle of Coca Cola should be over $10.

            • Timeforacupoftea

              ( Ed
              17 June 2018 at 6:24 pm
              Make $100 of fruit and vegetables free each week.
              And tax sugar – heavily.
              A bottle of Coca Cola should be over $10. )

              Then Coca Cola would produce Cola without sugar for 50 cents with a label :
              ” Just Add Sugar “

    • saveNZ 1.2

      +1 Ed, and education, also better labelling. Many parents are also not aware that orange juice as we know it today is more sugar and acid than oranges – it’s not just a poverty issue it is an education issue and a neoliberal and globalist issue of how our food and drinks have been allowed to become more profit driven than nutritional and appearance and shelf life more important than health benefits!

      Orange juice and in fact everything should be labeled to reflect what is actually contained in the food and drink and health warnings should be in place if they are a contributor aka DO NOT GIVE to under 5 years olds for juice – labels like for smoking.

      Just a theory but I would expect Maori and Pacific Island kids have better teeth genetically, it is actually what they are eating aka western ready food that is contributing to the issue the most.

      Also antibiotics can effect teeth quality.

      And everyone predicted when they started user pays student fees, that expensive courses like dentistry would drive up prices.

      Even if you have good teeth going to the dentist is very expensive. By the time there is the examination, the cleaning (done by another technician), x rays and so forth, you are up for $400. Put on a crown, dentures or braces for kids then you are looking at $1000’s of dollars.

      Put those prices against the median wage of $20 p/h then you see that that probably 50% of people can not afford to go to the dentist in NZ with our high prices and low wages.

      As with many things, dentistry needs to be looked at across the spectrum what can help?

      Our low wage culture is not helping, and how long can the government keep subsidising every low wage worker and their future families in this country that industry is braying out for to exploit further and yet another subsidy to apply for?

      Time we have a look at why in the 1970’s people’s health was better and people could afford to work on one wage and there were no unemployed and we didn’t have to bring back slavery and human trafficking to farm.

      Maybe farm subsidies were not so bad after all, since at least they employed local people at decent wages and the rest of the country could afford to eat our own quality grown food and we knew where it came from and not full of chemicals and GM to make tomatoes last 4 months at the supermarket and be selling orange juice with 5% oranges that have been in cold storage for 3 years or Guacamole in cans with 2% Avocado or salads with chemicals that make them last longer but they no longer have the nutritional value of the salad.

      • Ed 1.2.1

        “Time we have a look at why in the 1970’s people’s health was better ”

        I’m guessing
        1. Better wages.
        2. A closer correlation between the cost of dentistry and people’s wages.
        3. Less processed sugary food in people’s diets.

        There are solutions.
        And they are radical.
        And they would work.

        • saveNZ

          We could also go the EU way and have minimum standards for labelling. AKA chocolate has to have 25% cocoa to be labeled as chocolate.

          A health warning picture so it’s clear in every language the risks aka smoking style on products containing more than 50% sugar or sugar substitute aka aspartame that clearly shows parents or people a set of rotten teeth on every cereal, juice, sweet, muesli bar or what have you that is more than 50% sugar.

          Lets face it, industry would clean up their acts overnight and get rid of the sugar rather than have a picture of rotting teeth on their products (often the most sugary products are aimed at kids).

          Also if a food is unmodified maybe they have a separate health label for good, not the heart ticks crap that has meant sugary food is labeled as good for the heart, but food that is genuinely good for you gets a label that shows it is an excellent nutritional food, aka oats/porridge, avocados, kiwifruit, real bread etc etc.

          All government labeling run and independently checked, NOT some sort of charity semi scam giving out brownie labels for a fee, that are confusing or meaningless.

          • Antoine

            > A health warning picture so it’s clear in every language the risks aka smoking style on products containing more than 50% sugar or sugar substitute aka aspartame that clearly shows parents or people a set of rotten teeth on every cereal, juice, sweet, muesli bar or what have you that is more than 50% sugar.

            You are catering here for the subset of parents who:
            (a) Often buy their kids sugary stuff, and
            (b) Don’t know that it has lots of sugar in it, and
            (c) Would stop buying it if they knew.

            I’m not sure it’s a very large subset.

            > Also if a food is unmodified maybe they have a separate health label for good

            Do you really trust the Government to be able to tell the difference between good food and bad? I don’t.


            • saveNZ

              Anoine, it’s a huge subset because now so much food has sugar in it. It would help all parents. I give my kids sugar and sweets, I would probably give less of it, if I saw a set of rotten teeth on it, likewise my own kids could make the choices themselves if it was clear to them the consequences of eating the sugar.

              I don’t trust the government or industry, therefore as mentioned would like the government to run it and set standards aka EU style, but then independently test it. So there is a 2 tier process.

              Again it would even out the playing field. Those food producers selling healthier food would benefit, those who don’t might decide to make their foods healthier.

              All good things would come out of it.

              This is the sort of thing that Green voters and probably Labour voters, want and even Natz and NZ First voters might be keen.

              Even the farmers would come on board as we mostly sell good food in this country and it would benefit them, not rubbish food and have to compete against rubbish food from overseas.

              • Antoine

                (shrug) I wouldn’t die in a ditch over this, a bit of food labelling would do no harm


                • Antoine

                  Although, if I may say so, you could skip over the food labelling and just go straight to giving your kids less sugar?


                  • saveNZ

                    My point about sugar and kids is that I think MOST parents allow them to have some sort of sweet or treat – so it would benefit everyone. Not that I feed my kids lots of sugar and sweets so that their teeth rot.

                    Against your argument that only kids in poverty are given sweets and treats by parents therefore labelling is a poverty problem. It helps ALL people young and old if they are clearly told what they are eating and if it is excessively sugary or bad in some way for your health, then there is a picture of the risks.

                    There should also be a minimum size of font to read the labels about what is in the food as most of them are very hard to read clearly.

                    Some mother died in the US after consuming years of soft drinks daily, she apparently did not know the risks of consuming it, according to her family.

                    Not everyone is a nutritionalist and nor should you have to be one to shop at the supermarket.

                    Start by defining food as something that has minimum nutritional value and then make those not meeting it be labeled as non food.

                    • Antoine

                      > Against your argument that only kids in poverty are given sweets and treats by parents

                      I never said that, nor do I think it!

                      > Some mother died in the US after consuming years of soft drinks daily, she apparently did not know the risks of consuming it

                      Well that was idiotic


                • Richard McGrath

                  How do we know the people who would benefit from understanding the information contained in the labelling could read it?

            • Draco T Bastard

              Do you really trust the Government to be able to tell the difference between good food and bad? I don’t.

              If they’re using good research – yes. Far better than most people can who don’t have a research budget at all.

              You’re just going on the lies about the government that have been fed to you over the last 30+ years.

              • Antoine

                > If they’re using good research – yes

                Or, on the other hand, if they’re using bad research – no.

                Recall how the National Government handled meth contamination in State houses. After that, do you trust them to decide what you eat?


                • Draco T Bastard

                  Recall how the National Government handled meth contamination in State houses.

                  Yes I do. They had good research but ignored it for their ideology.

                  • Antoine

                    What makes you think this couldnt happen with food?


                    • Robert Guyton

                      It has. These are calls to change that situation.

                    • Antoine

                      Clearly I was too elliptical.

                      “If the Government got into the business of banning foods, what makes you think that some future Government (NACT if you like) would not erroneously ban some food that was actually wholesome?”


                    • Robert Guyton

                      No Good Government should be allowed to do something good ’cause a Bad Government might do something bad; that it?

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      What makes you think this couldnt happen with food?

                      How about we regulate the government as well. A simple law that says that the government must operate, at all times, in line with the best scientific evidence.

                      Of course, that would mean that the right-wing wouldn’t be able to implement any of their policies.

                      No Good Government should be allowed to do something good ’cause a Bad Government might do something bad; that it?

                      That does seem to be Antoine’s argument.

            • Tricledrown

              Antoine dirty politics shows how far the food industry ie the sugar fat carbo artificial colouring and flavouring industry is prepared to go to stop any regulations .
              Preventing the obesity diabetes and poverty epidemic.
              Basically NZ is being run by criminally conspiring monopolistic cartel’s.
              Their Minions have every excuse and lame blame shifting propaganda down pat.
              Just like the tobacco industry who complain about high taxes and plain packaging that these drug pushers and death merchants complain aren’t working .
              Yet tobacco consumption continues to fall.
              You would think if the tobacco lobby (deadly drug pushers) claims that tobacco consumption goes up with these policies they would be embracing more taxes and tougher anti smoking policies if they are a failure.
              The junk food industry is not taking responsibility but uses the party of take responsibility to avoid paying for the massive cost to our health system and up to 1/3 of new Zealanders suffering from obesity and diabetes.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.2.2

        Many parents are also not aware that orange juice as we know it today is more sugar and acid than oranges

        [Citation Needed]

        Maybe farm subsidies were not so bad after all,

        They were bad as it encouraged over production. Same as business subsidies do today.

        Of course, lack of subsidies in things like dentistry ends up flipping that and we get under production.

        The market is supposed to regulate the amount of production but high inequality prevents it as the rich can afford to pay lots and lots while everyone else can’t afford to pay at all.

      • Timeforacupoftea 1.2.3

        ( saveNZ 1.2 wrote
        17 June 2018 at 9:40 am
        Time we have a look at why in the 1970’s people’s health was better and people could afford to work on one wage and there were no unemployed and we didn’t have to bring back slavery and human trafficking to farm. )

        Back in 1971 under National Marshall I think my union in health related got us a 44% wage increase.
        My husband got a 42% wage increase in the motor trade thanks to the union.

        By 1970 my husbands teeth were all drilled out and filled with amalgam by 2010 he has a almost full mouth of crowns except the bottom incisors.

        • saveNZ

          @Timeforacupoftea – you might be right, but it was a particularly British habit of drilling out teeth. Of course one of the issues in the 1970’s was that many people put 2 teaspoons of sugar in their tea/coffee, didn’t know about brushing their teeth and smoked like chimneys, because the tobacco industry told everyone is was all fine!

          Like smoking, anything that causes dental decay in large quantities should have picture health warnings! Health warnings and taxation have reduced smoking, and it’s any easy way to do the same with products that destroy teeth like tobacco destroys the lungs.

    • bwaghorn 1.3

      Parents shouldn’t be giving kids fizzy drinks. You have to be living in a dark fucking hole not to have got the message that it fucks their teeth .
      That said dental should be free for basic tooth care

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.3.1

        Coulda woulda shoulda.

        Do you accept the link (as detailed at 3.1.2) between economics and dental health?

        • bwaghorn

          There is no doubt big business wants to sell you shit that’s easy to produce and that people want to eat.
          The fact that our most popular political party is in their

          • bwaghorn

            Pockets doesn’t help .
            But I have seen plenty of seemingly intelligent parents shovelling shit down their kids throats

      • SaveNZ 1.3.2

        @bwaghorn, go to any kids party and they are all serving fizzy drinks/cheap orange juice at places like Lolipops and and so forth . The message has not got through.

        I have never let my kids have fizzy drinks because I know about the risks, I think you underestimate how prevalent the fizzy drinks/juice are in NZ, there needs to be picture labelling if they want to stop the rot of kids teeth in this country.

  2. AsleepWhileWalking 2

    The dental situation is depressing.

    Nothing like being in pain and at the mercy of Work and Income

  3. Stunned Mullet 3

    Target to the young and very young to teach good dental hygiene habits from an early age – unless these are taught an ingrained early it will be an uphill battle to improve dental stats and the vast amount of money will be spent on remedial work.

    ….and stop pandering to those communities who don’t want fluoridation.

    • Robert Guyton 3.1

      Is it dental hygiene habits that are the issue, or is it sugar? Did children who lived before sugar became available en masse suffer tooth decay? Surely it would be better to exclude sugar from children’s diets, adults too, in order to solve the problem of tooth decay.

      • Stunned Mullet 3.1.1

        ‘Is it dental hygiene habits that are the issue, or is it sugar?’

        Yes and yes

        ‘Did children who lived before sugar became available en masse suffer tooth decay?’


        Surely it would be better to exclude sugar from children’s diets, adults too, in order to solve the problem of tooth decay.

        😆 🙄

        • Robert Guyton

          What, aside from sugar, causes tooth decay?
          Are you thinking “scurvy” and “grinding by gritty fern root”?

        • saveNZ

          It’s not just the sugar it is the acid as well. Many are saying the acidity is worse as a factor to tooth decay than the acid, so they need to be combined to get an idea of the worst food/drink situation for tooth decay.

        • Stuart Munro

          “In some respects the men who manned the Mary Rose were an elite, but this also perhaps tells you something about changes in society. By the late 19th/early 20th Century, we were more urbanised and the diet wasn’t as good.”
          Of those on board, 25% had no significant tooth decay, leading Admiral Lippiett to suggest the “shape of their teeth was far better than in today’s society”.


          Sugar has contributed to the decline in dental health. As corporations become larger, they become less socially responsible, and need government guidance, or class action lawsuits to restrain their sociopathies. A class action for Mountain Dew’s destruction of southern teeth for example, would probably break the company.

          Smart governments do not try to ban things like sugar which have many legitimate uses. Nor do they fall into the revenue trap of taxing them, which has by no means resolved the ills of tobacco. But they can, without cost to consumers or industry, regulate sugar maximums in drinks, and gradually move them down. This prevents companies competing on a ‘sugar hit’ strategy and gradually reduces the public taste for sugar.

      • koreropono 3.1.2

        The following excerpt from one of the linked articles implicates neoliberal economic policy:

        “The ongoing consolidation of neoliberalism as the organizing principle of modern society has led to what has been coined the “neoliberal diet” (122): this is the energy-dense and nutritionally compromised industrial diet—highly processed and convenient “junk” food—which was the outcome of the U.S. agricultural subsidy policies of recent decades. Such food is high in sugar, salt, and fat. It has low nutritional value but is cheap, available, and requires minimal preparation. It tends to be consumed by those on low and/or insecure incomes, whose numbers are steadily rising as a consequence of neoliberal policies. Sugar intake is the most important dietary risk factor for dental caries (123), yet the marketing of sugar-laden food and drink continues unabated, with the true sugar content unapparent to most consumers. Attempts to restrict such marketing are strenuously resisted by food industry lobbying, despite the fact that some of the most popular supermarket products sold in New Zealand are less healthy (full-fat milk, white bread, sugary soft drinks, butter, and sweet biscuits) (124). Early childhood caries (ECC) shows no signs of disappearing and recent research shows that ECC is actually increasing. The numbers of children being treated under general anesthetic nationally have increased by 60% since 2004 and there are increases in ECC prevalence, for example, from 16.6% in 2009 to 23.3% in 2013 in Canterbury (125).”


        • Bill

          Useful link, except it seems that as of last year, the profit driven idea that animal fat is bad for health was still enjoying some currency – sigh.

          • Antoine

            Better ban it


            • Bill

              Ban what Antoine? Profit? No need to ban it. Just abolish the market and configure an economy such that ripping people off isn’t rewarded – is disincentivised.

              • Antoine

                ‘Ban animal fat’

                I was making the point that if you ask the Government to ban unhealthy food, they may ban the wrong thing.


    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2

      Poor dental hygiene is a “choice”, just like poverty eh.

      All you have to do now is figure out why neoliberalism is such a bad choices machine, and why you are stupid enough to fall for it.

      • Stunned Mullet 3.2.1

        The noelibarilsm is ruining my teeth !

        The lord high goat botherer strikes again.

        • koreropono

          See 3.1.2 above 🙂

        • Ed

          Neoliberalism insists on small government and says the market knows best.
          So big sugar sells more amd more sugar.
          And teeth rot.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Yes, see 3.1.2, and note that it validates my criticism. Have you figured it out yet?

        • Greame

          Yep, neoliberalism has ruined several generations of teeth in New Zealand, and will continue to unless changes are made bloody quickly.

          We used to have a School Dental Service. As in the murder house for those old enough to remember that aspect of their primary and intermediate school days. Sadly this treasure was hobbled by the 90’s reforms and is now a shadow of it’s former self.


          “New Zealand’s School Dental Service (SDS) was founded in 1921, partly as a response to the “appalling” state of children’s teeth, but also at a time when social policy became centered on children’s health and welfare. …..

          In the 1990s, New Zealand underwent a series of major structural “reforms,” including changes to the health system and a degree of withdrawal of the Welfare State. As a result, children’s oral health deteriorated and inequalities not only persisted but also widened. By the beginning of the new millennium, reviews of the SDS noted that, as well as worsening oral health, equipment and facilities were run-down and the workforce was aging. In 2006, the New Zealand Government invested in a “reorientation” of the SDS to a Community Oral Health Service (COHS), focusing on prevention. Ten years on, initial evaluations of the COHS appear to be mostly positive, but oral health inequalities persevere. Innovative strategies at COHS level may improve oral health but inequalities will only be overcome by the implementation of policies that address the wider social determinants of health.”

          Where would we be now if the 90’s reforms hadn’t gutted the school service?

        • Graeme

          Neoliberalism also destroyed the School Dental Service, or restructured and refocused it to be another thing altogether. In hindsight this may have been a mistake.

          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5534465/ which koreopono has linked to goes into the history of the SDS at length, and is a very good read.

          Table 2 in the document (it’s about half way through) gives a very good impression of the effect of lifetime fluoridation, about the same as ethnicity, and there are much bigger gains across the entire population by other means.

        • Tricledrown

          Stunned mullet neo liberalism is just one giant cartel which is paying to undermine democracy.
          They have plenty of simplistic redneck minion’s to purvey their dogmatic propaganda.
          They have all the power but no responsibility.

      • AB 3.2.2

        Quite. Why would we run an economic system that drives people to make so many ‘poor decisions”?
        Why not instead create one where people are far more likely to make good ones? For example, enough income to buy decent food, enough time to prepare it properly (not working multiple jobs), all the sugar-filled crap off the shelves?

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          In reality, the poor choices/personal responsibility narrative is nothing but sadism masquerading as misplaced vanity.

          • AB

            Plus of course there are profits to be made from the ‘Bad Decisions’ of others.
            Though that does raise the question of why businesses like soft-drink companies who so actively encourage the making of ‘Bad Decisions’ through their advertising and promotional activity, don’t show some ‘Personal Responsibility’ by packing up their tents and going away.

    • Ed 3.3

      As usual the neoliberal fanatic ignores tackling big sugar head on.
      Your failed ideology is a big part of the problem.

      • Stunned Mullet 3.3.1

        @Goatlord, you started off the thread with a useful contribution which is worthy of discussion in light of the success of taxes on tobacco and arguable failure of taxes on alcohol.

        You and the Lord High Goat Botherer then decided my comment was the height of neoliberal outrage daring to suggest targeted interventions at an early age to teach good oral hygiene habits and fluoridation.

        My question for both of you – “Won’t anyone think of the Goats ?”

        • Draco T Bastard

          Good education is part of the solution. Another part is properly regulating the market so that poor quality food is no longer on it.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          …targeted interventions at an early age to teach good oral hygiene habits and fluoridation.

          And you really don’t understand why that sort of victim-blaming cop-out generates such a derisive and hostile response.

          Q. Why is an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff always your preferred option?
          A. Because if there were witnesses at the top of the cliff they’d spot you pushing people off, all the while sermonising about “personal responsibility”.

          • Stunned Mullet

            Oh do fuck off you noisome cunt and please stop worrying the goats while you’re at it

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Nah, I think I’ll just carry on pointing out that the National Party and its enablers are a death sentence, both for individuals and the country.

              Take your lumps.

              • Stunned Mullet

                Each to their own but your efforts on this blog do give all the appearance of being a pointless little smunt.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Yours make you seem like an avatar of dogshit who bleats and cries at the first suggestion of criticism, but hey.

  4. AsleepWhileWalking 4

    Just read an article on people not claiming kiwisaver tax credit/free $ thing


    Rather than let it go to waste it should be used for dental. Obviously if you can’t pay a dentist the chances you claim the credit are slim.

  5. One Anonymous Bloke 5

    Any government that maintains these conditions is an abomination. How then, should we regard the National Party that exacerbates the problem and then insults and abuses the victims? That’s a rhetorical question.

    Make dentristry a responsibility of the MoH. Smash the SOE model while we’re at it. There is no alternative.

    • alwyn 5.1

      Perhaps the current Minister of Education could be called on to set a good example. Just what got into Hipkins that he needed to suck on his can of Coke while appearing before a Parliamentary Select Committee? When schools are trying to remove these sugary drinks from their premises why does he need to demonstrate that they are acceptable?

      I realise he is an arrogant little twerp, and was merely following the example of a number of other Ministers suffering from congenital arrogance, but was his behaviour really necessary?

      “State Services Minister Chris Hipkins swigging from a can of Coke throughout his appearance”

      Give it up Chris. Even if only to show a bit of respect for the organisation you are in. Your Government is a joke but Parliament as a whole doesn’t need to be.

      ps. It might help get rid of his appalling halitosis.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.1

        I can see that it’s the big issues that concern you. Did he say “fuck” too?

        • alwyn

          Did he say “fuck” too.
          Not quite. His whole approach was simply saying “fuck you” to the country and its representatives.
          Quite amazing isn’t it? It normally takes three terms before a Government reaches these heights of arrogance and hubris. This CoL seems to have got there in about 8 months. I suppose that they realise that they are, if lucky, going to be a single full term Government and they might as well enjoy it.

          However, back to the dental question.
          How are you, as a Teacher or Principal, going to be able to get the children, and the parents of the children, at your school to accept that fizzy drinks like Coke which are loaded with sugar are not acceptable?
          Tell them it isn’t good for them? Then try and explain that it is all right for the Minister of Education but not for them. You will be laughed at. Perhaps not to your face, as most people are more polite than Chippy, but nobody will take the admonition seriously.
          Let him set a proper example.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            Showing contempt for the National Party is an excellent way to keep faith with the country. Does anyone take your admonitions seriously?

            • Draco T Bastard

              alwyn is a known liar and so no one should take what he says seriously.

              • alwyn

                What Draco means by that remark of course is that I say things that don’t agree with his own warped view of the world.
                He cannot logically debate the statements because they are factually correct. This upsets him and he simply covers his eyes and ears and screams his rage at somebody demonstrating that the Emperor he worships has no clothes.
                Anyone who has seen a two year old in a mad tantrum will recognise his behaviour. Poor little fellow. He is to be pitied rather than blamed.

                • In Vino

                  Back to wishful thinking mode, and putting your own words into others’ mouths, huh, alwyn? Once again, your accusation against Draco forms the basis of an irony…

                  [That’s consecutive comments from you that make no contribution whatsoever; that are wholly focused on attacking others who make comments. Knock it on the head.] – Bill

                • Draco T Bastard

                  What Draco means by that remark of course is that I say things that don’t agree with his own warped view of the world.

                  No, what I mean is that you lie.

          • Gabby

            You could point out that it’s not a 2L bottle and he prolly brushes his teeth wally.

      • Robert Guyton 5.1.2

        Who wrote that and what about their responsibility?

        • alwyn

          This question appears to be addressed to me Robert.

          I gave a link to the story. It is a reporter telling us what was going on in Parliament. What do you think their responsibility can possibly be? Should they have jumped up, rushed over to Hipkins and seized his can of drink?
          How long would it be before they were booted out of the hearing and out of the Press Gallery?
          Their responsibility is to report what happens in Parliament. Short of someone being physically attacked it doesn’t include stopping MPs behaving like imbeciles.

          What do you think the Reporter’s responsibilities were?

          • Robert Guyton

            “What do you think the Reporter’s responsibilities were?”
            To report the significant issues. What Hipkins was drinking doesn’t qualify. If your genuine concern is that Hipkins was sending a bad message to children (I don’t for a moment believe you think this) then you would also think the reporter has done the same thing, advertising the situation, gratuitously. Again, I think you are trying to whip up something out of a trifle; your talking point is de minimus.

            • Draco T Bastard


            • alwyn

              Of course my primary objection to Hipkin’s behaviour isn’t that he was giving a bad message to children. My primary concern is the incredibly arrogant behaviour he and his fellow ministers were taking to the Select Committees of Parliament whose duty it is to examine the way that the Executive is behaving.
              That was also the primary concern of the article.
              However, as the Cabinet Manual points out. Being a Minister is a full time job. They are always the Minister. As such he should consider all his actions from that viewpoint. Sitting there drinking from a can of Coke may be meant by him to show he doesn’t give a damn about fulfilling the requirements of his job. It also, however, is seen by others and, I am sure you would agree, can only serve to harm the ability of School teachers to try and instil healthier eating habits. and thereby healthier teeth in children. Is that the most important thing about his behaviour? No. Does it matter? Yes.

              • Robert Guyton

                At least he wasn’t playing Solitaire.

                • alwyn

                  Well. It is interesting to see where your priorities are.
                  I guess you are a committed Green though so “I hate National” is tattooed into your psyche.
                  Think of the Kermadecs. Gerry is in favour of the Sanctuary. Why are you opposed?

                  • Robert Guyton

                    Why am I opposed? To Gerry?
                    I favour sanctuaries, when they are brokered fairly.
                    I hope something will be achieved in and around the Kermadecs. Gerry? Not the man for the job. Didn’t swing it, failed to achieve it. New situation, new people. Lots to be done.

          • Gabby

            What kind of coke was it wally?

      • Kevin 5.1.3

        Cannot believe I am saying it, but I agree 100% with Alwyn.

        • In Vino

          Kevin – If symptoms persist, consult your medical specialist.

          [Three consecutive pieces of bullshit. Take the rest of the day off] – Bill

    • AB 5.2

      How then, should we regard the National Party that exacerbates the problem and then insults and abuses the victims?
      Jeering at your enemies while torturing them to death has a long, unhappy history in human affairs.

  6. AsleepWhileWalking 6

    There appears to be a link (observed on my part not a study) between sexual abuse and dental problems. Makes dental visits harder as it can be a trigger.

  7. JanM 7

    I have long wondered , when dental issues are often as serious as medical ones, why dentistry has never been subsidised in the same way as medical procedures. The cost of dentistry is prohibitive even for average income earners, and it’s been many years since I’ve done anything other than go and get troublesome teeth removed. Repair is financially out of the question, especially as I am now a superannuant.

    On the subject of children and their drinks – interesting that you talk about fizzy drinks and milk as though those are the only alternatives. My grandchildren have drunk ‘sky juice’ (water) almost exclusively for years, especially since I made a fuss at a family party about ‘who was poisoning my grandchildren’.

    • Robert Guyton 7.1

      “Goose wine” also. I reckon raisins and other dried fruits are tooth-destroyers and we used to give packets of them to our children in their school lunches; that stuff sticks and is sugary-as!

    • Draco T Bastard 7.2

      I have long wondered , when dental issues are often as serious as medical ones, why dentistry has never been subsidised in the same way as medical procedures.

      When our public health system was set up the dentists effectively lobbied to keep dentistry out.

  8. DH 8

    What do children have available to them at school these days? We had the school dental nurse which, while hated by all children and fondly known as the murder house, was free dental care for all.

  9. JanM 9

    It’s still available and provides a good service but is now a mobile unit which visits schools on a roster basis

    • Robert Guyton 9.1

      And they are called, “dental technicians”.
      I wonder at the mental health of adults who suffered drilling as children. The trauma, though we laugh it off, is great. Are we carrying a deep trauma, we adults who had our teeth drilled, injected, pulled in the Murder House? That sort of “mechanical intervention” inside of your head, think “child’s head” could be regarded as…torture; certainly it’s/was used as such elsewhere in the world. Marathon Man, anyone?

      • Tricledrown 9.1.1

        The murder house didn’t have anesthetics available back in the day, flouride wasn’t in the water supply or in toothpaste .
        But poverty is the biggest problem children of poor families can’t afford healthy food.

        • saveNZ

          Just as big a problem is that unhealthy food and processes are mimicking good foods.

          It’s not just the poor getting fatter and unhealthy. Plenty of fatties in parliament and I don’t think they are suffering from poverty! Far from it!

          Unhealthy food and drink is everybody’s problem, it is not just for poor or uneducated people and needs to be taken into the mainstream as an issue to tackle because it is not going away, it is getting worse.

      • Whispering Kate 9.1.2

        To this day Robert I have a serious phobia for the dentist. Before I allow them to even look in my mouth I am injected up to the eyeballs with pain killers. I don’t think the profession knew what killing pain was back in the day.

        Our teeth are not the only problem which is caused by sugar – we have an epidemic of huge size looming world wide with type 2 diabetes – from too much sugar in the form of sugar and carbohydrates combined. Children are presenting with pre-diabetes levels – its shameful. We should be concentrating on eating only foods which our grandparents would recognise. Some hope of that. A month in the US recently was a massive eye opener into what sort of junk people are consuming these days. Horrifying.

        • solkta

          Ew no, I don’t want to have to eat meat with veges boiled shitless every night without a trace of spice except for white pepper. Or that disgusting nutrition free white bread with the sugar laden jam..

        • Robert Guyton

          We older, still-toothed citizens will all have horror stories I reckon, WKate. Mine resulted from a power-cut in the dental clinic while I was in the seat, and the re-deployment of an ancient foot-operated drill … chill

    • DH 9.2

      Do they still see every child at least once annually JanM?

      There’s a big gap in the narrative. How did the children’s teeth get so bad without anyone noticing?

      The school dental service saw everyone and it was compulsory IIRC, memory has faded now but I think we were all chained to that chair a few times each year.

      • JanM 9.2.1

        A lot of the damage has already been done by 5, and although the dental technicians are available for pre-schoolers they are not mandatory – neither is attending pre-school for that matter. The best centres will encourage parents to access this service, but there are a lot of centres that I wouldn’t want to see the hotel cat attend 🙁

  10. Ed 10

    Nigel Latta looked at this issue in 2014.
    Years of neglect…

    “Latta spent time in Nelson Hospital’s operating room where young children were having rotten and decayed teeth surgically removed as a result of consuming sugar-laden drinks.
    Nelson/Marlborough District Health Board’s principal dental officer Dr Rob Beaglehole stated that last year, 34,000 children under 14 had teeth removed, and that number is increasing year after year.
    One young girl had six teeth removed in a three-hour procedure, which Dr Beaglehole said frankly, would cause her numerous difficulties later on, such as eating, socialising, and the inevitable need for future orthodontic work. Another 2-year-old being operated on had teeth which had dissolved down to the gumline and were bleeding before surgery began.”

    And the reason we are in this position.
    Scum like Katherine Rich.

    ” Latta spoke with the CEO of the New Zealand Food and Grocery council, Katherine Rich. Rich …. stated that a fat tax or sugar tax had not made a big difference to obesity rates in places where they had been attempted, and pointed out that other factors such as overeating and lack of exercise also had a role to play.
    Rich was also against government intervention, and made it clear that some factors are out of the government’s control. She also pointed out that she wouldn’t want to live in a country that was heavily controlled, and consistently advocated for the freedom of choice and personal responsibility.”



    • Baba Yaga 10.1

      “And the reason we are in this position.”

      Bad parenting. Unless Katherine Rich bought the drinks for these children and forced them to consume them, she isn’t to blame.

      Ed do you understand the concept of personal responsibility?

      • Barfly 10.1.1

        As usual

        BY it’s spray and walk away from you the “personal responsibility fetishist”

        It’s a societal problem that’s needs a solution – not your ideological claptrap.

        • babayaga

          No, it’s largely an individual problem, that needs people to step up and recognise their responsibilities.

          • David Mac

            Like all of us you have relaxed your personal responsibilities and fallen prey to temptation.

            When the medicine is personal responsibility and we’re seeing no changes in the patient we need to check our doctoring.

            • babayaga

              Personal responsibility is not the ‘medicine’ it is the prevention.

      • Ed 10.1.2

        You revolt me.

        • babayaga

          You don’t revolt me. But your ignorance of how the real world works astounds me.

  11. Antoine 11

    I’m just not seeing what more the Government is supposed to do. Kids’ dental care is already free! Water is fluoridated. Advice on healthy eating and teeth care is everywhere.

    It’s up to parents to give their kids good food and drink. And make ’em clean their teeth regularly and thoroughly with a fluoridated toothpaste.

    Is there any parent here who doesn’t do this??


    • Ed 11.1

      It’s up to parents……
      No governmental responsibility for rules which allow…..

      ….corporations advertising to children
      ….large subsidies for big sugar
      …..taxes on fresh food and vegetables
      …….the high cost of dentistry
      …….the decline in real wages over the past 35 years

      Nope, according to Antoine and his fellow cultists, and incredibly conveniently for big business interests, it’s all down to poor parenting.

      Your dishonesty makes me sick.

      • Antoine 11.1.1

        I’m not arguing with you about this, you just want kids to eat bean sprouts

        • saveNZ

          I don’t think ED mentioned bean sprouts???? lets’ not dishonestly add to other’s posts when it is not true, to diminish the points they are making.

          • Antoine

            > I don’t think ED mentioned bean sprouts????

            That is his secret agenda, but he cannot hide it from me


            • saveNZ

              For Antoine’s Bean sprouts fixation…


              Bean sprouts are a moderate source of plant protein, with each cup providing 5.3 grams, or 11 percent of a woman’s daily protein needs and 9.4 percent of a man’s. The protein in bean sprouts is incomplete — it does not contain all of the amino acids your body needs. To obtain complete protein without meat or other animal products, eat a wide variety of vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains throughout the day.


              A cup of stir-fried bean sprouts is a good source of the B vitamins riboflavin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, thiamin and niacin. It is also high in vitamin C: Each cup contains 19.8 milligrams of vitamin C, which is 22 percent of the recommended daily allowance of the nutrient for a man and 26 percent of the RDA for a woman.


              Mung bean sprouts are especially high in copper, with each cooked cup containing 316 micrograms of the mineral. Adults need 900 micrograms per day, and eating a serving of bean sprouts would supply 35 percent of that requirement. Every cup of the sprouts has enough iron to fulfill almost 30 percent of a man’s iron needs and 13 percent of a woman’s. Beans sprouts also contain magnesium, manganese and zinc.

          • Ed

            Right wing trolls don’t have an actual argument.
            So they attack the messenger.

            • Robert Guyton

              I reckon Right wing trolls do have an argument, often, just not a strong argument, nor one based on what I think are sound values.

            • alwyn

              It works both ways Ed.
              I made an argument about Hipkins behaviour earlier in this thread.
              Draco didn’t like me giving an opinion that doesn’t agree with his own but, because he was unable to make a rational argument against it he simply claimed that nobody should ever take any notice of what I say because, according to his warped view of the world I always “lie”.
              He doesn’t offer any evidence of course. Just abuse.
              I think I am quite entitled to offer a variant of your statement.

              “Left wing trolls don’t have an actual argument.
              So they attack the messenger.”

      • Robert Guyton 11.1.2

        Ed: what do you want kids to eat? Just wondering…

        • Ed

          A plant based diet.
          Non processed foods.

          • Robert Guyton

            Exclusively plants?
            Kombucha? Kefir? Kelp chips?
            Genuine interest.

            • Ed

              As long as it is sustainable, nutritious and plant based.

              • Robert Guyton

                Would you recommend kelp (it’s not “plant based”). I’m not challenging you, just interested in what you mean. I too advocate eating these things and others. I’m just not quite sure what you mean by “plant based”.

    • Robert Guyton 11.2

      I reckon you’re completely wrong, Antoine. What parent would willingly set their child up to suffer the agonies and costs of dentistry? There’s something working against children’s best interests here, and it ain’t the parents. I reckon Ed’s correct here.

      • Antoine 11.2.1

        > I reckon you’re completely wrong, Antoine. What parent would willingly set their child up to suffer the agonies and costs of dentistry?

        Robert I do not know if you have children, I will proceed on the assumption that you do.

        Do you give them good food and drink? (I bet you do)

        Did you need the Government to tell you to do this? (I bet you didn’t, I bet it was your own idea).


        • Robert Guyton

          Antoine – my children have almost always eaten good food. I have alerted them to the processes out there that seek to harm their health; advertising being one of the most significant, but also cultural issues, such as not regarding foraged weeds as valid food, but I would very much like it if those pressures weren’t there or at least so strongly maintained. I’ve not said that I need the Government to “tell me what to do”, which seems to be a bug-bear for you, but there are changes that could be legislated that wouldn’t be mistakes and would help every parent and child in New Zealand to maintain healthy teeth. It’s not hard to do, in many instances and it’s only vested interests profiting from the sale of those substances that rot teeth, preventing the happy situation where parents can be less pressured and have a reasonable chance of success if they wish to actively help their children keep their teeth into old age.

          • Antoine

            I am likewise happy for reasonable measures to improve the situation – food labelling, dental hygiene in schools, perhaps a moderate sugar tax.


          • koreropono

            Without fully reading Antoine’s statements and the little I have read, It kind of seem they’re going into ‘let’s blame the parents’ mode, whilst ignoring all the facts…be interesting to see Antoine get to the point so I can come back later and debate those points fully.

            • Antoine

              On form, I suspect what you’ll _actually_ do is come back later and hurl insults at me


            • Ed

              Blaming parents allows extremist crazed economic theories off the hook and eschews corporations any social responsibility.
              That’s why Antoine trolls for them.

        • Barfly

          Hey how about we don’t go down the blame the parents route so quickly

          – you see
          “Advice on healthy eating and teeth care is everywhere.”

          Well obviously it’s not sufficiently effective – so do bloody more

          and what Ed said pays a fat part in the problem as well.

          “Individual responsibility” parroting is merely a way to avoid addressing the large and growing problem.

          • Antoine

            On the contrary, individual responsibility is the _only_ way to address the problem (short of banning sugar, which I don’t think is gonna happen)


            • Robert Guyton

              A child is watching an advertisement for lollies in which the main character, much adored and respected by the child, tells him it’s good to eat these lollies. The child begins eating said sugary treats. Antoine steps up and tells the child, quite rightly, that sugar will cause your teeth to rot. Child ignores Antoine, assumes individual responsibility for his/her actions, eats sweets.

              • Antoine

                Antoine’s children aren’t allowed to watch advertisements


                • Robert Guyton

                  At home? Do they go to school where advertisements are all over the junk food wrappers. Have you taught them to avert their eyes? Buses, billboards?
                  Your children must spend a lot of their day in the dark.

                  • Antoine

                    You did specify ‘watching’, which I took to mean moving pictures, which I don’t think they get exposed to much.

                    What was the point you were working up to?


                    • Robert Guyton

                      Advertising is powerful. Parental warnings might counter the effects, but I doubt it. Some parents might not know of that threat, being subject to it themselves, being overloaded with other responsibilities, being …whatever. A wise governing agency would look at the issue, especially when the well being of its charges (us, our children) are concerned and make requirements of the industry that advertises. That’s my point. Your seems to be, let it flow, let it go, me and mine will be fine!

                    • Antoine

                      (shrug) I don’t mind if you wanna ban advertisements for high sugar foods; go for it; I wasn’t watching them anyway


                • Gabby

                  Is Big Antoivernment crushing their freedoms?

              • Ed

                Antoine knows this.
                But Antoine does not care about other people like normal people do.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Another one who believes the personal responsibility propaganda. What can be done about the way the brain adapts to mendacity?

        • Tricledrown

          Sugar/Carbo’s are adictive as science has proved.
          But the likes Catherine Rich doesn’t want the junk food cartel’s to take repsonsibility for marketing these addictive food groups to children or anyone for that matter.
          Adictive substances are a guaranteed market.
          These cronies are in the same business as the drug dealing gangs dealing to a guaranteed market .

          • Ed

            Katherine Rich cares more for money than she cares about the fate of other people.

    • AB 11.3

      “I’m just not seeing what more the Government is supposed to do.”

      1.) Ensure that no citizen is under prolonged economic stress (i.e. make everyone middle class)
      2.) Regulate to de-toxify the food environment – particularly in relation to sugar and using expert advice (i.e. so nothing to do with the government ‘telling’ me what to eat, which is how unreconstructed ACT voters would deliberately misconstrue it)

      Ed is bang on here.

      • Antoine 11.3.1

        I think (1) is both undesirable and impossible, and I don’t trust the Government to get (2) right. If we let Governments do (2) then they would have outlawed fat decades ago while doing nothing about sugar; Quite the opposite of what they should do. I don’t trust the ‘expert advice’ either.

        Figure out what is good to eat, eat that and feed it to your kids if you have kids.


        • Robert Guyton

          Your kids? What about everyone else kids; the ones who can’t hear your message, didn’t read this post on TS?
          What about them? Can they somehow receive your message telepathically?
          Don’t forget, dental disease costs the taxpayer dearly.

          • Antoine

            > Don’t forget, dental disease costs the taxpayer dearly.

            Not as much as ‘making everyone middle class’ would


            • Robert Guyton


              Not interested in playing an active role in protecting children (other than your own sweeties) from dental ill-health, Antoine?

              • Antoine

                Happy for the Government to take reasonable actions to promote good dental health without asking my permission first; I’m sure they already are


                • Robert Guyton

                  Antoine said:
                  “On the contrary, individual responsibility is the _only_ way to address the problem ”

                  and also, “Happy for the Government to take reasonable actions to promote good dental health without asking my permission first:”

                  That’s confusing/confused.

                  • Antoine

                    There is a bunch of things that need to happen, in order for kids to have good dental health.

                    One of those things is cheap or free dental treatment, we have that, good.

                    Another is fluoridation, we sort of have that, we (as a society) could do more.

                    Another is education, we sort of have that, we (as a society) could do more.

                    Another is the availability of good food, we have that in my view.

                    But the last link is for parents to manage what their kids eat, and (as the kids age) for the kids to take up that responsibiliy. Without this link, the chain breaks.


                • Tricledrown

                  Antoine healthy children grow up to be healthy adults who have higher incomes.
                  The neo liberal Dickensian dystopia is happy to have good numbers live in poverty as they can dehumanize “them” so “they” are at fault not the selfishness of the few who have more than enough but want to bully the poor inarticulate people into the ground saying repeatedly we can’t help these undeserving.
                  Pull your self up by your boot straps even though they don’t have any boot straps.
                  Redneck rhetoric is all you can regurgitate.
                  No thought or originality just banality!

              • Ed

                To understand Antonie’s psychopathic mentality, you need to read Ayn Rand.

        • Robert Guyton

          Antoine: you said: “I don’t trust the ‘expert advice’ either.”
          How did you learn what is and isn’t healthy for teeth?
          Trial and error?

          • Antoine

            I’m sure I don’t 100% know what is and isn’t good for teeth

            I muddle along as best I can

            I just had a tooth extracted (cavities) so I’m obviously not a shining example


            • Robert Guyton

              Is “muddling along”, not accessing expert advice enough for your children’s health? I’d be making a bit more effort, if I was in that position. Wouldn’t it be great if agencies existed to do that for us; concentrate on research we can’t do at home, provide advice and recommendations, use their position to counter some of the gratuitously harmful influences that the individual can’t entirely control? A bit like rules that prohibit the discharge of high powered rifles in suburban areas; you know, rules for the greater good, where small people aren’t able to effect behaviour such as guns being fired willy-nilly. Compulsory fencing where farms border highways, that sort of thing.

              • Antoine

                > Is “muddling along”, not accessing expert advice enough for your children’s health? I’d be making a bit more effort, if I was in that position.

                You were in that position, what expert advice did you get?


                • Robert Guyton

                  Pretty intense study of the issues by me, my wife, our friends. We looked at many, many sources, including those that advise Governments.

                  • Antoine

                    That’s very good


                    • Robert Guyton

                      Your view on this, Antoine?
                      ” Compulsory fencing where farms border highways, that sort of thing.”

                    • Antoine

                      Let’s go back talking about food rather than fencing.

                      Compulsory food labelling, restrictions on advertising, education in schools, public information campaigns – cautiously OK (recognising that sometimes the Govt will give the wrong advise and cause harm).

                      Banning sugar, banning ‘bad foods’, farm subsidies, smashing neoliberalism, making everyone middle class, making everyone eat bean sprouts (all suggested on this thread) – not OK.

                      Is my view.


                    • Robert Guyton

                      Those would be good. Ban sugar? Entirely? How could any government do that? I don’t suppose anyone’s advocating that. I take it from my “fence” question that you do agree, in some instances at least, that laws for the general good are okay? Not thinking that leaving the responsibility for keeping livestock off the roads is up to the farmers personal ideology, were you?

                    • Antoine

                      > Ban sugar? Entirely? How could any government do that? I don’t suppose anyone’s advocating that.

                      Of course they are, on this very thread.

                      > I take it from my “fence” question that you do agree, in some instances at least, that laws for the general good are okay? Not thinking that leaving the responsibility for keeping livestock off the roads is up to the farmers personal ideology, were you?

                      Sure, laws intended for the general good can potentially be good.


                    • Tricledrown []

                      Antione your the best example of why you can’t change behaviour your blindly addicted to your selfish Dogma.
                      The more evidence that is provided the more you refuse to accept evidence.
                      You have to defend your dogmatic delusion at all costs otherwise in stead of compromise you look at yourself as an idiot if you did compromise.
                      Alwyn gosman James DTB at least DTB does look at evidence based on good science.
                      Where all the others I have named sound like the exclusive brethren hell bent on sticking to cult type behaviour.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Antoine: I couldn’t find where anyone here said,”Ban sugar”; can you show me where that was,?
                      You said: “Sure, laws intended for the general good can potentially be good.”
                      How about one that sets limits to levels of sugar in processed foods?

                    • Antoine

                      > How about one that sets limits to levels of sugar in processed foods?


                      I like to use brown sugar when baking. It is a processed food consisting 100% of sugar. Any limit on the level of sugar in processed food would rule it out entirely. Brown sugar would be off the shelves straightaway, it’d be treated like crack cocaine.


                    • Tricledrown []

                      Even the republican mayor of New York put a tax on sugary drinks the UK has also put a limit on sugar in drinks.
                      So the big sugar drinks company’s have significantly reduced the amount of sugar in their drinks to avoid paying more tax!
                      Win win.

                    • Robert Guyton

                      I’m not advocating the removal of processed sugar (most sugar is processed, Antoine, unless you are chewing cane or licking honey comb) from the shelves of stores, as I’m sure you knew. Foods, baked beans for example, contain added sugar. That’s where I’d like to see restrictions applied.

                    • Antoine

                      > That’s where I’d like to see restrictions applied.

                      But probably not what an activist Govt would actually do in its blundering way


        • Draco T Bastard

          Figure out what is good to eat

          If people can’t afford to eat in the first place then how are they going to afford the necessary research budget to figure out what’s good to eat?

        • AB

          “I think (1) is both undesirable…”

          Therefore you believe that it IS desirable for some people to be under prolonged economic stress – just not yourself presumably.
          Good to see the moral vacuum at the heart of your belief system stated so plainly rather than obfuscated with blather. It helps us all to know that (going forward).

    • Draco T Bastard 11.4

      It’s up to parents to give their kids good food and drink.

      And just how are they supposed to know what is good food?
      And how are they supposed to be able to afford it on NZ’s low wages?

      This is what regulations are for. To prevent bad food from being on the market in the first place while also ensuring that people have enough income.

      • Antoine 11.4.1

        > And just how are they supposed to know what is good food?

        Do you not know?

        > And how are they supposed to be able to afford it on NZ’s low wages?

        I’ve lived in countries with low wages; NZ doesn’t have low wages.


      • Antoine 11.4.2

        > This is what regulations are for. To prevent bad food from being on the market in the first place

        What if the Government had banned fatty foods such as butter a few decades ago, mistakenly thinking they were ‘bad food’?


        • AB

          And what if the government hadn’t regulated against DDT residues in food years ago because they mistakenly thought they weren’t bad?
          Or more likely, they hadn’t regulated against them because some reductivist ideologue had shouted “we can’t trust the government to know what is bad and therefore we will do absolutely nothing about anything in the sure and certain knowledge that ‘Personal Responsibility’ will save us all”

          The is typical ideological nuttery – finding edge cases that are used to undermine a general principle that is essentially sound. And the result is ideological purity and widespread harm.

          Rule no.1 of doing absolutely anything to improve things in the real world is that there are always issues at the margins. Get over it.

          • Antoine

            > Rule no.1 of doing absolutely anything to improve things in the real world is that there are always issues at the margins. Get over it.

            ‘Get over it’ is bad advice. ‘Seek moderate interventions in an attempt to reduce unintended consequences’ is better.


            • mauī

              Seek moderate interventions = Blame it on the children when their teeth hit the media.

            • Stuart Munro

              Golly you’ve changed your tune Antoine.

              I can remember you singing the praises of government intervention when it was Gerry Brownlee’s compulsory purchases of redzone properties – at prices the courts found to be inadequate.

              But suddenly you’re all agin it – even a moderate measure like regulating sugar levels in some processed foods.

              I call bullshit. You’re not suspicious of government at all – you’re only suspicious of This Government. Were it John Key and his merry band of thieves you’d be supporting it to the hilt.


  12. Marcus Morris 12

    Most of the above posts, and quite rightly so, refer to the appalling situation applying to children and the effects of sugar consumption. I speak from the other end of the age spectrum and wish to highlight the plight of many for whom National Super is their only income. To have a tooth extracted cost as much as one week’s payment so there will be thousands in my age group who will suffer discomfort because they have no alternative. The irony in our situation is that throughout our working lives, when regular dentist visit were more affordable, the dental practice of the time was to preserve teeth at any cost. That was all very well and commendable when the bill could be paid.
    For an earlier generation it was common place to have full dentures at a much earlier age. I believe my own mother was in her early twenties when she got “fitted out”. That may sound extreme but perhaps the time has come when those who are approaching retirement, in the knowledge that their income is going to be severely reduced, should be encouraged to consider the option of full dentures.

    • saveNZ 12.1

      But isn’t fitting dentures, a massive cost in itself?

      If you get a bad fit from dentures there is also a lot of discomfort and difficulty eating.

      Prevention should be the start!

      • Marcus Morris 12.1.1

        I think you are missing my point and I hope your first comment is wrong as I am in the process of paying $5000+ to have extractions and then dentures made on the advice of my dentist who has told me that the process is necessary for my dental health’s sake.
        Eventually, and no matter how regular your visits to your dentist are, you will be faced with a situation such as mine. Do you take preemptive action when you can afford it or do you delay and face a prohibitive bill in your later years?

        • Bill

          Under an actually existing and properly funded public health service, the cost of lower and upper dentures is (as a maximum) 80% of approx $300. Add on the 80% of the cost of extractions at about $15 a pop.

          And the maximum cost for any course of treatment is about $750.

          That’s for people on good wages.

        • saveNZ

          Good luck to you with your dentures. Both my parents have got dentures or partial dentures. One of my parents went offshore to get their dentures as it is so expensive here, the other one spent thousands on partial dentures here and had a lot of discomfort before the issues were solved.

          Unfortunately I think dentists in NZ do not seem to offer much service and value for money and I would always get a 2nd opinion as getting rid of all your teeth for your dental health… Dentures don’t sound like a magic bullet with zero problems afterwards.

          When I was a student and early in my adult life could not afford much dental care, but after seeing my parents getting dentures, I am now being much more careful with my teeth and hoping they will last…

          The more you care for your teeth the longer you live apparently. If you floss you will on average live 6.4 years longer….


      • Draco T Bastard 12.1.2

        But isn’t fitting dentures, a massive cost in itself?

        Not really and the price keeps coming down as manufacturing techniques improve.

        In fact, I wouldn’t use dentures but bridges.

    • Bill 12.2

      Dental costs here are an abomination on NZ society. I’ve just been for simple preventative dental treatment (so not an emergency that could unlock that $300 from WINZ) and got no change from $500.

      I’ve looked at the costs for the exact same treatment in the context of a properly funded public health service. Being unwaged, my treatment would have cost me precisely zero dollars and zero cents.

      If I was earning a good wage, and got the treatment I received, I would have been up for 80% of $50 (fifty).

      It seem then, that NZ dental charges are in the order of 10x what they would be under properly funded public health care.

      Eating or not eating sugar, or eating/not eating junky, cheap and starchy foods, or smoking/not smoking, though sometimes a factor in bad oral health, doesn’t mean a damned thing if dental costs are so prohibitive that preventative dental care regimes can’t be accessed.

      • Antoine 12.2.1

        > I’ve just been for simple preventative dental treatment … and got no change from $500.
        > I’ve looked at the costs for the exact same treatment in the context of a properly funded public health service. Being unwaged, my treatment would have cost me precisely zero dollars and zero cents.
        > If I was earning a good wage, and got the treatment I received, I would have been up for 80% of $50 (fifty).

        Who would have paid the $450?


        • Bill

          You understand the concept of general taxation Antoine? Or, being (I suspect) some weird proponent of “free market” ideology the tendency of some services to gouge in an ever upward spiral because “what ‘the market’ (in people’s misery in this case) will bear as a price”?

        • Draco T Bastard

          Who would have paid the $450?

          That $450 charge may only need to exist because the dentists isn’t getting enough clients. In other words, the clients are paying for their care plus the free time that the dentist has.

          In other words, it’s a question of scale. This is why public health services are far cheaper then private health care.

          • Antoine

            Think you’ll find dentists keep pretty busy


            • Tricledrown

              Antoine maybe if we had preventative dental healthcare dentists wouldn’t be busy and would have to compete and prices would be reasonable allowing more people to maintain healthy teeth requiring less dental work.

              • Antoine

                We do have preventative dental health care!!!


                • Robert Guyton

                  It’s not effective enough. Let’s ban all sugar!
                  Just teasing’ ya!
                  Most sugar. And acidic drinks. And other purchasable threats to dental health. Regulate for the greater good. Let’s enable the Government to intervene, in a reasonable manner, for the sake of our children! (‘s teeth).

                • Tricledrown

                  Antione your a pathetic wind up.
                  So we have preventative dental care according to who.
                  Trolling for the sake of trolling you must be the duty troll today.

                  • Naki man

                    Why do you think we dont have preventative dental care?
                    Is there something my dentist isnt telling me?

                    • Tricledrown

                      Naki man your dentist who charges you
                      $350 a visit is not telling you its unaffordable for 60% of new Zealanders

                    • Naki man


                      My dental visit cost is $60 to check teeth and gums
                      $30 to clean my teeth and remove plaque
                      $10 sterilization fee
                      $100 total then every second year
                      i have an x ray that costs another $30.
                      Not sure where you got $350 from
                      Compared to what lawyers charge i would say its pretty good value

                    • McFlock

                      If those were the beginning and end of dental costs, there wouldn’t be a fucking problem.

                      As it is, people put it off because they can’t afford to drop a c-note or more, and it ends up costing hundreds more than that.

                      I guess it’s another way being rich means they don’t just have more, they spend less to live more comfortably than the poor.

                    • Tricledrown

                      Naki every second year your BSing every 6 monthly is what dentists want you to cheque and clean teeth.
                      If you don’t need any work that would be very rare.
                      So someone’s on low wages that’s 60% of the population can’t afford dental care your on above the average wage otherwise you wouldn’t be on this site belittlng the poor.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      $100 total then every second year

                      You’re making the assumption that everyone can afford a C note.

                      A huge number of people actually can’t.

                • Ed

                  Of course we don’t.
                  Now you’re being silly.

      • Barfly 12.2.2

        I hear you Bill – my teeth are in piss poor condition and no money for repairs – my only hope is Kiwisaver !! If I can somehow manage to save the $20 a week contribution for 5 years and the with the government contribution and cashing in at 65 I think I may have nearly enough to catch up on the backlog of dental work I need – oh and I’d have to do it quickly because once I cash it in that’s too much assets to get any accommodation supplement – which is unfortunately rather crucial.

    • veutoviper 12.3

      I am also at your end of the scale, MM, and this post is very timely.

      As a result of a number of events, most out of my control, I have ended up a retiree with my only income NZ Super plus a small amount of Accommodation supplement – and am currently in the process of having very necessary dental work to try to preserve what teeth I have remaining.

      While your suggestion that those approaching retirement and likely to be on very reduced incomes consider dentures is a good one and worked for our parents’ generations, dentures are also not cheap and require maintenance etc over time.

      Dentures and part plates are also not possible for everyone. For example, in my case, trials have suggested that dentures or part plates would not work for me due to the small size of my bite and also a chronic autoimmune condition that, as well as many other symptoms, affects my mouth and tongue. Plates would likely aggravate these problems – and there is just not enough room in my mouth for both a tongue and plates, LOL!

      Re those here with a black and white view on the causes of tooth decay, while obviously sugar etc are a large part of the most dental problems of children and adults, these ‘life style choices’ plus bad dental hygiene are not the only causes of dental problems. Genes and other ‘non-life style’ medical conditions can also affect teeth condition, susceptibility to decay etc and other forms of oral health throughout life, as in my case.

      As noted in the links in the post itself, there is a non-repayable $300 Emergency Dental Grant (per year) available through WINZ to beneficiaries and those on low incomes – but this has not been increased since about 1996.

      As you point out, these days $300 covers very little particularly at a private dental practice. Subject to application through the dentist, WINZ can also provide repayable (no-interest) loans for emergency dental work over and above or in place of this $300 grant annual limit. Such loans are repaid via smallish deductions from your fortnightly Super or weekly benefit.

      In my case, my doctor referred me back to my local DHB hospital dental service which provides much reduced cost (but not free) dental services to people on low incomes, beneficiaries etc in emergency situations; and/or where they are referred to the service by their GPs for health reasons. (I spent a lot of time in my childhood under this hospital dental service; and also a few years ago for emergency dental treatment.)

      Apparently not all DHBs provide hospital based dental services at reduced costs, but I understand most DHBs have similar reduced costs arrangements with specific dental practices, so it is worth checking what is available in your local area in this respect if you are on a low income, benefit, etc.

      In the past, i have found that you really need to do your homework etc before going into battle with WINZ, but this round I have had extremely good help from the WINZ Seniors section with my dental costs ($300 grant plus loan for rest) and some other things that needed sorting. I now have a personal case manager who has been wonderfully supportive. There appears to be real change happening re attitude etc in the Seniors area at least, so lets hope this continues and extends over all areas of WINZ in the very near future.

    • JanM 12.4

      You are right, Marcus. My grandmother had all her teeth removed and plates put in for her 21st birthday present. Apparently it was quite common to give this procedure as presents for birthdays, engagements and weddings in the knowledge that in the future dental procedures would be prohibitive

      • veutoviper 12.4.1

        Hi JanM

        I see that at 7 above, you say that you are on Super etc and cannot afford dental treatment. See my 12.3 above, because is some areas of NZ reduced cost dental services are available through DHBs for those on benefits or low incomes – plus grants and loans through WINZ. In my and others’ experience, although these DHB reduced cost dental services are supposedly for emergencies, once you are through the door on that first ’emergency’, you get a full dental assessment, quotes for you and if needed for WINZ, and appointments for all work needed to get your teeth back into shape etc. And the charges are much, much lower than private dental providers. In some cases, these reduced cost dental services are through a DHB hospital (eg Wellington) or are by arrangement with private dental practices.

        So it is well worth checking out what is available in your area in this regard. WINZ offices are supposed to have this info but also google “emergency dental services” for your area. This may turn up what is available for low income people.

        Also talk to your GP because they can refer people to these reduced cost dental services for health reasons.

  13. saveNZ 13

    Go into the supermarket and get a trolley full of cheaper foods and work out how much sugar, modified starch and soy and nutrition they have. I suspect not much nutrition.

    Aka, $1 white bread for school lunches, with jam probably one of the cheapest spreads, $1 potato chips with palm oil and MSG, Nutigrain used to have about 50% sugar and they heavily advertise to kids. As mentioned by many a bottle of coke costs less than bottled water (that we give away to overseas firms and buy back the coke).

    Weird that potato chips are cheaper than potatoes which for some reason are $7 for 2 kg’s in the supermarkets.

    For what ever reason we are allowing products that have little nutritional value to be sold as food. If something has no nutrition or little nutrition, then it should not be allowed to be labelled as food masking as another food that is more expensive but actually has nutrition in it.

    Massive problem now in NZ with Obesity and Diabetes and that is food related. Considering the political WOF for rentals is sold as a health issue, when there is a much bigger cost to health and growing which is Obesity and Diabetes which is largely ignored…. people used to live in much worse housing in NZ but were healthier, their health is going down hill because of the food which is getting worse and worse in this country and a massive cost to the health system.

    It is not fair that families don’t understand that not all food is the same quality and unlike smoking, no warnings to let them know the risks of what they are eating if it is bad for them or has no nutritional value.

    • Bill 13.1

      I think most people/families are well aware that “white shite” isn’t very good food. But when it’s all you can afford…

    • Antoine 13.2

      > It is not fair that families don’t understand that not all food is the same quality

      Who is this who thinks that all food is the same quality?


    • JessNZ 13.3


  14. Draco T Bastard 14

    New Zealand’s ‘third world’ dental problems are so common that dentists have started a charity called ‘Revive a Smile’ and now a petition calling for Government to subsidise dental treatment, increase the age of ‘free’ dental care and remove GST from dental services.

    While being fully against what actually needs to be done which is to fully implement dentistry into the national health system.

    Along with GPs as well.

    • Bill 14.1

      I thought you were maybe being a bit unfair there Draco, so I clicked the link. You weren’t being unfair.

      This rubbish whereby “private charity” is seen as an option to replace public funding or negate the need for public funding needs to be piled up, doused and torched.

      That said. The second link (to the petition) is making an opening gambit on bringing dentistry under the umbrella of the public health service by calling for free and subsidised dental care.

  15. Ad 15

    Basic dental care is already free to New Zealanders until you’re 17.

    That’s the whole of schooling having dental free.

    Is funding further free years of dental the most pressing problem that will get young people out of poverty and into being able to pay for their own adult healthcare?

    • Bill 15.1

      Adult healthcare ought to be universally provided for by society, not left as some lottery one might be said to win by way of being fortunate in terms of birth, genetics and/or vagaries of the market.

      That’s how it is in other countries, and there is no reason why it can’t be that way in NZ too.

      • Antoine 15.1.1

        There is no country where adult healthcare is universally provided for and never will be. No matter how much medical treatment you fund, there will always be people who want or need more.


        • McFlock

          Even if it were true (rather than highly debatable), that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for the ideal.

          • Antoine

            To be honest it does seem kinda weird that GP visits are heavily subsidised and adult dental visits aren’t, I wouldn’t be unhappy to see that change


            • Tricledrown

              Antione so nearly a 360 after all the dogma.
              Do you have more productive things to do.

              • Antoine

                Not at all a 360. I have been quite clear that I support cheap or free dental care for kids. It would be pretty weird to suddenly turn around and say ‘but it should be really expensive for adults’.


        • Bill

          There’s a difference between “not all treatments can be provided” and universal health care. The latter is absolutely achievable. The former will always be a reality. In other words, we’re not talking about some miraculous “cure all” system of health care – that belongs in science fiction stories where “gizmo wands” exist.

        • Tricledrown

          Antione France has very comprehensive healthcare which Includes free dental healthcare for adults.
          France works heavily on preventive healthcare .
          So much so one of my Children who now lives in France is staying permanently for her children’s health.
          And for the holistic education system as well.
          You get what you pay for low taxes equals cheap skate health education and infrastructure.

            • Tricledrown

              Antione may pay to read your link properly.
              It was refering to more expensive treatments crowns etc mainly.

          • Ad

            Well, there’s Cuba.

            But even Cuba doesn’t get you free dental.

            “While preventive medical care, diagnostic tests and medication for hospitalized patients are free, some aspects of healthcare are paid for by the patient. Items which are paid by patients who can afford it are: drugs prescribed on an outpatient basis, hearing, dental, and orthopedic processes, wheelchairs and crutches.

            When a patient can obtain these items at state stores, prices tend to be low as these items are subsidized by the state. For patients on a low-income, these items are free of charge.”

            Subsidised for all, free if you’re poor.


            Not sure if there’s much appetite for adopting that degree of tax, loss of freedom, and state-enforced silence of dissent, for free dental if you’re poor.

            Australia is our closest and still best comparator. In Australia, where a particular service is not covered, such as dentistry, optometry, and ambulance transport,patients must pay the full amount. Having a Health Care Card just means you get it subsidized.

            I’m not yet hearing the argument that more free dental care is the most important route to get young people out of poverty so they can stay healthy and pay their own way in life.

            • Bill

              So there’s a degree of tax, loss of freedom and state enforced silence of dissent in Scotland that’s “just not worth it” for poor people there getting free dental care, alongside dental care costs being capped at around $700 for a course of treatment for those not fully subsidised?

              Hmm. K.

              edit. On your “I’m not yet hearing…” Health is an end in itself. This idea you seem to be pushing – that being kept healthy or having access to health care services should come with strings attached is kind of obnoxious.

              • Ad

                I hadn’t heard of Scotland’s example, but cheers for the link.
                I referenced Cuba, where the tradeoff is stark.


                Scotland has other tradeoffs, as per above. It has a much healthier population than ours, with quite low obesity, declining cancer rates, and declining morbidity rates.

                None of that applies to New Zealand.

                So while Scotland spends much on dental care, we spend our public health dollars on other stuff, like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc.

                Health is certainly an end in itself. But the post isn’t debating healthcare as a whole. It’s debating dental care.

                The policy question is whether dental care is the highest and best use of the public health dollar.

                The big debates in Scottish healthcare are precisely where we should be focussing:

                1. Universally accessible (free at point-of-care) strongly promoted, high-quality sexual and reproductive education/counselling in youth; family planning; prenatal and perinatal care (including effective breastfeeding support)

                Labour market, tax and transfer policies to lift all families with young children out of poverty

                Universally accessible (virtually free), high-quality, early childhood education programmes, located in every neighbourhood within walking distance of parents’ homes

                Systematic support to enable universal secondary and – where appropriate – post-secondary – education and training, suited to full and productive employment

                Accessible (free at point of care), high-quality primary, secondary and tertiary health care, including evidence-based public health services

                Strong, evidence-based economic and marketing controls on established health hazards, including: tobacco, alcohol, unhealthy foods, and gambling

                Sustainable economic development policies that support full meaningful employment


                Unsurprisingly, this Labour-led government is ahead on the policy fronts on nearly all of these.

              • Ed

                Very interesting Ad.
                Scotland is also addressing its issues with alcohol by putting in place legislation to deal with the problem.

                A nearly zero level for drink driving.
                Minimum pricing.

  16. JessNZ 16

    Of the food available at any regular store, 90+% of it is packaged, salty sugary fatty refined food – although it should be only a vanishingly small part of our diet. The ‘healthy’ versions are usually twice the price and the fresh produce is often not even close. Add to that the ever-increasing desperately busy lifestyles of most families, and another tick goes into the box of convenience instead of basic nutrition and health that doesn’t come in a colourful wrapper with a competition for an overseas trip insikde

    The free market economy is NOT delivering a healthy food message to the consumers it serves, and it shows, so yes, intervention and prevention is needed. Not just hot air and ‘education’ but actual action against what the free market is killing us with.

    The current situation confirms that those in charge are ok with some people dying of poor health, as long as they’re the ‘waste of space people’ (to quote Maggie Barry in her own charming words).

  17. CHCOff 17

    If the solution’s good enough for John Keys, Green MPs, rugby teams etc etc etc why not for the poor? or better yet average NZers??

    It is the fear, that society, like politics, is zero sum.


  18. Treetop 18

    Water is free. Toothpaste and a toothbrush can be purchased for 99c each.

    Just as breakfast and lunch are provided for children in need. Toothpaste and a toothbrush could also be provided.

    There is no excuse to not drink water nor is it unaffordable to purchase the products to brush teeth twice a day.

    Reading the label on a food product to see the sugar content is time consuming and needs to be allocated a number per 100G.

    Dental treatment needs to be subsidised for those on a community card.

    A competition for schools to come up with a teeth cleaning song/act would generate oral hygiene awareness.

    I am a believer in targeting parents first when it comes to change. Sometimes it is better to target the children first. Even better, both parent and child.

    • Treetop 18.1

      Children under 5 the parents need to be educated on what causes tooth decay. Also parents need tips on how to encourage teeth cleaning. It is not easy to get a toothbrush onto teeth when a child under 5 will not cooperate.

      • Antoine 18.1.1

        > It is not easy to get a toothbrush onto teeth when a child under 5 will not cooperate.

        Sit on ’em


        • Treetop

          I usually do a demo and add sparkling like a diamond or a star.

        • Tricledrown

          Antione redneck responses is all you are capable of.
          You have obviously never lived in poverty.
          Logic rules your brain simplistic dogma is all you can purvey!
          In the 60s and 70s poverty didn’t exist we were told by our teachers that we had to help countries like England by giving to Banardos to help widespread child poverty in London .
          We were told that New Zealand didn’t need banardos because of a comprehensive welfare system which was true back then.
          The selfish side of humans has dominated in more recent times now we need Barnardos in NZ.

    • saveNZ 18.2

      Probably slightly harder to brush if you live in a car, likewise prepare a delicious healthy meal when you work 3 jobs… then the cost of power, how long is the oven on to cook a roast… You can see the attraction of going for a sticker price low cost but high fat takeaway and the proliferation of the fast food industry to cater for the rat race. Maybe we should call life, the fat race, now. I think there are more liquor shops and takeaways in poorer areas.

  19. Ed 19

    I wonder why big sugar corporations advertise to children.

    • Treetop 19.1

      You ask a good question.

      The more you sell the more profit. Socially irresponsible. Sugar is proving to be detrimental to a child’s health. It needs to be treated like tobacco.

  20. koreropono 20

    I think a number missed the point of the post or perhaps I was not clear enough, though it doesn’t surprise that a few have gone off on a “it’s not hard to…” or “let’s blame the parents” or “individual responsibility” tangent.

    It is all good and well saying a tooth brush doesn’t cost much, or people should eat healthier foods and we should tax sugar or whatever, the point is that because of lack of income and resources poor people find it harder to access the things that could improve oral health. There is always going to be an element of education needed but that education needs to take account of the barriers people face.

    Applying a ‘sugar tax’ while on the face of it , seems a good idea, one has to wonder which group such a tax will impact on the most, especially given that poor people have to eat what they can afford and often the foods they can afford or have access to are high in fat and sugar. For example:

    “Cheap foods are energy dense, high in fat and sugar and highly palatable.
    People with limited resources will select foods that are more energy dense so
    as to satisfy energy needs” https://www.cph.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/foodsecurityreview.pdf

    There is more to dealing with the problem than simply telling people to stop eating sugar or buy a toothbrush. A good start would be to make access to dental treatment affordable for everyone, and giving those living in poverty adequate income so they can afford to make healthier food choices. Ensure that children are accessing regular check ups, and if not, provide the means for them to do so.

    • Treetop 20.1

      Prevention is where I would start.

      No one should be put in a position where they are denied dental care.

      Good dental/oral care is an investment.

      • David Mac 20.1.1

        Yup, the best place to have a bearing as to what goes into a mouth is with the person in charge of the decisions as to what goes into that mouth. I think that’s pretty much a given.

        Beyond that, the focus of Korero’s post, we need to take better care of each other.

        • Bill

          Doing yesterday’s shopping, I made a decision to buy really good healthy food. Then the reality of my disposable income hit and so I bought what I could afford instead.

          So no. Your “given” is anything but a given. 🙄

          • David Mac

            Regardless of what it is Bill, you control what passes your lips.

            We’d all prefer to be guzzling Moet, not many of us are.

            I’m struggling to visualise you as a 4 litre bottle of Cola kinda guy Bill.

            • Bill

              My point being that the parent or parents with children and bugger all income don’t get to make the simple “decisions” you imagine.

              Deciding between Moet or Chardon isn’t even in the scheme of things.

              • David Mac

                Yeah I get that Bill. The Moet thing was the point that nearly all of us walk through Countdown with our budget in mind.

                If we all had an extra $200 to spend in Countdown I wonder what sort of decline in child tooth decay we should anticipate. I think the thrust of this post is correct, we’d see a marked decline.

                • Ed

                  I think the key is a stick an carrot policy

                  The carrot
                  No tax on fruit and vegetables
                  cheaper dentistry based on income.
                  Vouchers for cheap dentistry based on diet.

                  The stick
                  Heavy taxes on processed sugary food.
                  Forced expulsion of some multinational corporations

                  • David Mac

                    “Vouchers for cheap dentistry based on diet”.

                    If I drink lots of Coke I have to go the part-time taxi-driver dentist with a chair out the back of the dairy? Anesthetic = a cassette of 100 soothing sitars?

                    People have dentistry issues that have absolutely nothing to do with what they eat. eg: A wisdom tooth that in trying to get out is pushing a jaw apart.

                    Rather than forcing multinationals I’d prefer we created an environment that obliges them to make a business decision to act as we want them to. eg: Don’t march the Aussie bankers into the tide. Shape Kiwibank to be such an entity that the ANZ’s etc have little option but throw their hands in the air and exclaim ‘Well it looks like they’re getting the lion share of the mortgage market.’

                    This situation has happened unassisted in the past. Global giant Ebay and all comers gave up trying to beat the hokey low-brow platform auction site that Kiwis feel in love with.

                • Bill

                  And if people surviving on social security payments even had $200 to spend on food (never mind this “extra”), then the choice might not be between ‘bread or cereal” or “bread or bill payment”, but possibly tending towards “what bread”, “what type of cereal” etc.

                  But if that still left people with no access to dental care where preventative steps can be taken that are beyond what can be done at home…

                  And regardless of what may or may not happen to rates of dental decay off the back of less processed food, there’s the fact that some people just have knackered teeth because they have knackered teeth. And if they are also poor, they can’t access dental care.

                  As I’ve signposted in a few comments, the cost of dentistry in NZ seems to be in the order of 10x the cost that those on a high income would be expected to pay under the auspices of properly funded public health care.

                  NZ – (the NZ government) has no excuses for continuing to deny people in NZ access to dental care.

                  • Ed

                    I would deal with sugar in New Zealand the same way Portugal deals with heroin addiction.
                    Free dentistry and counselling and education.
                    These are drug addicts, after all.

                  • David Mac

                    I agree Bill, we should all have ready access to dental care. I ignored a crook tooth for as long as I could, started to feel a bit ill. It was only talking to my dentist that I discovered that tooth decay can taint a bloodstream and prompt a heart attack.

                    I think Macro is right, a generation ago we whipped them all out. The baby boomers have done all they can to hang on to them and they are chew weary in the healthiest of jaws. We need to be thinking a whole lot more about this silver tsunami.

    • Bill 20.2

      I find it a bit disturbing that the comments on a labour blog that caters more to the self identifying left than it does to the self identifying right have, off the back of being seemingly oblivious to the systemic issues that have been raised, struck out along tracks that suggest a certain degree of comfort with putting the onus on individual members of a class on the receiving end of systemic bullshit.

      But hey. This is NZ, where “progressive” (it seems) comes down to the mere fact of having a pregnant PM. 🙄

      • koreropono 20.2.1

        @Bill plus +1000…I worry about the progressives, sometimes I can’t tell them apart from RWNJs and yet they insist on calling themselves the progressive left. My idea of left and their idea left are quite often very different.

        • Ed

          The clue is in the word ‘liberal’.
          They are not socialists.
          They, like RWNJs, believe in the cult of the Individual.

      • Ed 20.2.2

        Totally agreed.
        The assault by capital is systematic.
        The response cannot be an individual response, but a societal and governmental one.

        People like Antoine are not left.

        • Bill

          Sure Ed. And what’s the politics of regressive “user pays” taxation that you proposed in the very first comment in the thread?

          Because that shit ignores the systemic nature of problems and simply seeks to alter behaviour at the level of the individual by meting out highly individualised financial punishment.

          So before you go making judgement calls on what other people’s political positions are or might be, how about you engage your brain around some of your own?

          • Ed

            Yes I said taxing sugary drinks and I also said giving $100 per week for fruit and vegetables.
            I also said free dentistry.
            How is that regressive?

          • Treetop

            I have noticed in the last decade how differcult it is to be seen by a hospital dentist. Demand has increased and service made unavailable.

            Two Christmases ago I had to use an emery board to file a tooth which cracked on Christmas day. The filling was partly gone and then more fell out. I had a very sharp edge cutting into my cheek everytime I chewed. I had no transport to get to a dentist even if I could be seen by one. The new filling cost me $490.00.

            Access to and the cost of dental care seriously needs looking at.

        • Antoine

          I never said I was, I am centrist.


    • saveNZ 20.3

      The main point is also to make the healthier food choices CLEARLY LABELED… because most people go on cost for many items which may market themselves as healthy or low fat or be ‘bread’, but have little to no nutrition or in the cases of some fruit juices which most people consider healthy drinks, are no longer because the fruit is stored in vats for years and then become acidic but can still be sold as freshly squeezed juice… but is damaging people’s teeth.

      Some types of white bread that contains little food value and full of sugar is cheaper than other bread that is better for you… people need to be warned if food is not good for them… and what is food defined clearly… aka needs a certain amount of nutrition in it..

      • koreropono 20.3.1

        Okay and you think that will make a difference to whether or not someone on a limited food budget may choose between say an unhealthy $1 loaf of white budget bread or a $3.50 healthier bread?

        In my experience, poor people tend to buy what they can afford even if they know it is not the better health choice. The difference for many is no food versus some really cheap crap food that will at least mean the kids have full bellies.

        • saveNZ

          Yes, I would like to think that poor people also choose the better alternatives as they can afford them… otherwise you are falling into your own trap.

          As mentioned there are plenty of rich and educated people with weight problems too, quite a large percentage in parliament! so food safety and health is not just a problem for poor uneducated people.

          All people should have the right to know what is in their food and how healthy or unhealthy it is, clearly labeled. Then we do have that choice that the neoliberals keep harping on about.

          Sadly food is much less nutritious than it was 30 years ago and it is getting worse because of a range of factors.

          “While we’ve been dutifully eating our fruits and vegetables all these years, a strange thing has been happening to our produce. It’s losing its nutrients. That’s right: Today’s conventionally grown produce isn’t as healthful as it was 30 years ago — and it’s only getting worse. The decline in fruits and vegetables was first reported more than 10 years ago by English researcher Anne-Marie Mayer, PhD, who looked at the dwindling mineral concentrations of 20 UK-based crops from the 1930s to the 1980s.”



          • koreropono

            I am not so sure what you mean by ‘you are falling into your own trap’, but needless to say, I agree re food labeling so I am not sure what the issue is.

            However if you think such labeling is going to suddenly lead to the poor buying the $3.50 loaf of bread instead of the $1.00 loaf, then you are sadly mistaken. Unlike wealthier people, poor people are constrained by what they can afford and they know it.

            • saveNZ

              Yes, the solution is, if it falls below a nutritional standard it should not be allowed to be labeled as a food product and if it is harmful to people it should be clearly labelled with the risks aka smoking.

              This is what the EU does, they have certain criteria to ensure that you can’t just keep making a food look and taste like a food, but not actually contain the ingredients of that food which makes it authentic. Aka Chocolate has to have 25% cocoa. Cocoa is actually a super food and good for you.

              What is happening to food is that in the US that has huge lobbyists is they can sell baby food such as mashed bananas, but it has no bananas and made of modified starch with banana flavouring.

              The result is that the US spends the most on health care per capita in the world and has one of the lowest amounts of people in the west able to access health care.

              NZ is not a rich country. We need to ensure we can afford to maintain health care like the EU and that means ensuring that people are not getting the lowest common denominator of food. We are what we eat!

      • Ed 20.3.2

        He solution is to prevent such food being made.

    • Macro 20.4

      the point is that because of lack of income and resources poor people find it harder to access the things that could improve oral health. There is always going to be an element of education needed but that education needs to take account of the barriers people face.

      So totally agree and quoted (with emphasis) for truth.

      This is a systemic problem for our society and the major solution is a more equitable distribution of wealth. The sooner this is done the sooner the diseases of poverty are eradicated. There is more than sufficient in this country for all to live well. We just need the determination to change our economy to achieve it.

    • The Chairman 20.5

      Dead right, koreropono (at 20).

      And good comments from you to Bill.

  21. David Mac 21

    The sugar bombs are pitched at kids because they’re the best salespeople that ever drew breath. My kid has mastered the art of getting me to stop at the ice-cream shop.

  22. cleangreen 22

    While living in Canada for three decades I as a kiwi was trreated to free teeth denal care and never had any worries about my health but here now I would not be able to afford teeth repairs at my age, and I had an accident where my teeth were chipped and some broken and ACC to pay only for part repais so a gum infection has given me blood poisoning that has lead to jiont problems in my feet knees and hips.

    We are not looked after here for teeth health as other countries do look after this much never health issue.

    The “emergency teeth repairs subsidy that helen Clarks govenment bought in has now been taken away by National and Labour are not yet signalling if they will bring this back yet.

    Teeth problems are a big health problem in NZ among the older generation today.

    • Macro 22.1

      Yes indeed. There is an increasing problem of elderly persons suffering from poor oral health. Again for many it comes back to the escalating costs of dental care. Whereas in the past many older people had had their teeth removed early in life that is not so today, and now there is a growing number of elderly people with huge oral health problems. For many lack of access to health care is one challenge. It has been mooted that a travelling clinic stopping at rest homes may be part of the solution. But cost is another factor. Our economy needs a complete revamp to one where the wealth is distributed far more equitably than it is today.

  23. Baba Yaga 23

    “It describes a situation where a father…”

    It’s a shame that father didn’t know that in NZ we have public dental system that provides free dental care to those who qualify for a Community Services Card.

    “Another article shows that an extraordinary number of children are admitted to hospitals because of tooth decay. ”

    Well ignorance knows no bounds. “Children in New Zealand who meet the eligibility criteria for publicly funded health and disability services are entitled to free basic oral health services from birth to 17 years of age (until their 18th birthday).” https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/services-and-support/health-care-services/visiting-dentist/publicly-funded-dental-care

    Poverty is not an excuse for bad parenting. But good try at justifying it.

    • Ed 23.1

      You really are scum, you know…

      Easy to blame the poor when you are so comfortably off.
      Easy to blame the individual when the system is stacked against them.

      We never hear selfish people like you challenge a system which subsidises cheap sugary food, allows these toxic and addictive products to be advertised to children and ensures people’s wages don’t keep up with the cost of living.

      Your views are contemptible, as are you.

      • Baba Yaga 23.1.1

        My ‘views’ are pointing out that free dental care is available to those who qualify, and parents who don’t help their children access that care need a kick in the arse. If that offends you, you need to take a strong drink.

        “Easy to blame the poor when you are so comfortably off.”
        You don’t have a clue about my circumstances.

        “Easy to blame the individual when the system is stacked against them.”

        Bollocks. The system is stacked in the favour of those in need. And I’m more than happy for that to be the case.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          On Earth, we can tell that the system is stacked dice are loaded against them because they’re in need. I marvel at the twisted mental contortions your amygdala feeds you.

        • Ed

          Your views revolt me.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 23.2

      Bill’s parents are responsible for the unaffordability of simple preventative dental treatment . M’kay 🙄

    • Barfly 23.3

      ” in NZ we have public dental system that provides free dental care to those who qualify for a Community Services Card.”

      Really how do I get that Baba? I have a Community Services Card and as far as I know in Auckland I can’t get this

      “free dental care to those who qualify for a Community Services Card.”

      Please tell me how I get this Baba it would really really be so helpful.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 23.3.1

        From the lying low-life’s link:

        People on low incomes who have a Community Services Card may be able to get emergency dental care, such as pain relief or extractions.

        You may still need to pay some of the treatment cost.

        I seem to recall this lying low-life received a moderator warning for lying quite recently.

        • babayaga

          Still unable to read for comprehension? The link I provided (https://thestandard.org.nz/pulling-teeth-for-poverty/#comment-1494888) was with reference to young people up to the age of 18, as my post made clear. From the same cite:

          “Children in New Zealand who meet the eligibility criteria for publicly funded health and disability services are entitled to free basic oral health services from birth to 17 years of age (until their 18th birthday).

          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”

          I’m immune to your f’wittery, but I won’t let you get away with deliberately misrepresenting what I wrote.

          • Stuart Munro

            And yet with all these supposedly on tap our dental health is deteriorating rapidly. How can this be?

            If we go back to Bill’s observations on cost, how did dental visits become so expensive here? The introduction of tertiary fees are likely to blame. Contemporary dentists must recoup their substantial student loans on top of catering to their ordinary professional aspirations, with the result that dental tourism to Asia is a real thing. Low waged workers incomes have not risen in proportion to pay the dentist’s fees, and thus they and their families have had to learn to do without – precipitating our country back into 19th century health circumstances. Which of course is what the Gnats wanted all along.

            • babayaga

              “And yet with all these supposedly on tap our dental health is deteriorating rapidly. ”

              If indeed that is true (and the link provided on that claim provides no evidence), the answer may be found in this comment (https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/94723061/more-than-6600-kiwi-kids-admitted-to-hospital-with-rotten-teeth-in-one-year?rm=m)

              “It’s totally preventable. The number one reason children have their teeth taken out is because of a high sugar diet, especially sugary drinks.
              A 4-year-old Auckland girl who had been drinking fizzy drinks from a sipper bottle had all her teeth removed under general anesthetic in hospital at a cost of about $4000, he said.”

              This is a disease of affluence. And the poverty here is one of parenting.

              • Stuart Munro

                “This is a disease of affluence. And the poverty here is one of parenting.”

                It can certainly be characterized that way. These juvenile corporate reprobates are foisting increasingly unhealthy products on a vulnerable section of society. They need a firm lesson in civic responsibility, and of course to pay for the damage they are causing.

                A responsible government will see to that – you RWNJ needn’t worry your little heads about it.

                • babayaga

                  A responsible government will protect the inept from themselves by banning yet another commodity we only consume by choice. No wonder you think that’s a good thing!

                  • Stuart Munro

                    Who said anything about a ban?

                    Sensible regulation BY – you can’t drive your car past a school at 200kph, and you cannot expect unlimited license to endanger public health by any activity.

                    But you can drive past a school at a reasonable speed, and do pretty much what you want without endangering public health. Maybe soft drink manufacturers could do a bit of joined up marketing with makers of oral hygiene products. Way outside the box for NZ but frankly ordinary in Korea.

                    Elsewhere corporates recognize the opportunity implicit in promoting good public health – not sure why NZ must always trail behind:

                    • Baba Yaga

                      “Who said anything about a ban?”

                      There are many people advocating a ban. And taxes. And other draconian measures to cater for peoples lack of self control and personal responsibility.

                    • Stuart Munro

                      Well why are you surprised? Declining dental health, and obesity, are an issue. And the useless Key government is out.

                      You’ve got two choices – run the usual bullshit about “personal responsibility” until public resentment builds to the point you get regulated – or get in front of the issue with credible voluntary standards or other mitigation approaches that will produce some improvement in outcomes and thus move you down the government priority list.

                      I know what I’d do, but lax governance has made some folk lazy.

                    • Baba Yaga

                      “…or get in front of the issue with credible voluntary standards or other mitigation approaches that will produce some improvement in outcomes and thus move you down the government priority list.”

                      Education – all good with me. Compulsion – nah.

                    • Stuart Munro

                      @Baba Yaga

                      It’s a presumption that knowledge is the controlling variable – and it doesn’t get you off the hook.

                      You need an intervention that works, not one that fits your preconceptions or massages your ego.

                      You probably don’t recall the P testing scam on Housing Corp houses, but the reason the Gnats embraced that nonsense was it flattered their presumptions, and incidentally let them rip off some of the most vulnerable people in NZ.

                      You could get away with that under the suppurating corruption of the Key Kleptocracy, but it won’t wash under the Coalition. Bad faith fixes will only increase the severity of government interventions.

              • Tricledrown

                babygaga sugary drinks cost $1 a litre
                Milk $3 a litre .
                When your home rent costs 90% of your income you don’t have choices.
                Like snobby superior rich self indulgent trolls who have all the money to be perfect,who don’t have to worry where their next meal is coming from.

              • Gabby

                Rich kid’s rich parents too rich to take her to the dentist, is that your thinking babbygagga?

                • Baba Yaga

                  When children can afford to buy sugary drinks instead of drinking water, then we have a problem of affluence, not poverty.

                  • Gabby

                    4yos buying their own soft drink babbygaggy? Must be rich all right.

                    • Baba Yaga

                      Four year olds given money and the ability to purchase said drinks from parents either too lazy or too permissive to intervene.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            You were lying about “those who qualify for a Community Services Card”.

            Q. Who can get a community services card?
            A. “16 years or over (not a dependent child)”.

            Ergo, you are lying, or hoist on your own “reading for comprehension” petard. Nah, you’re lying.

            • Baba Yaga

              From my post:

              ““Another article shows that an extraordinary number of children are admitted to hospitals because of tooth decay. ”
              Well ignorance knows no bounds. “Children in New Zealand who meet the eligibility criteria for publicly funded health and disability services are entitled to free basic oral health services from birth to 17 years of age (until their 18th birthday).” https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/services-and-support/health-care-services/visiting-dentist/publicly-funded-dental-care
              Poverty is not an excuse for bad parenting. But good try at justifying it.”

              The entire comment was about children. Learn to read.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                ManintheGaga: “…in NZ we have public dental system that provides free dental care to those who qualify for a Community Services Card.”

                Criteria for eligibility for a Community Services Card: to be 16 or over and not a dependent child.

                Therefore your comment specifically excludes children, you lying piece of shit.

                From the lying low-life’s link:

                People on low incomes who have a Community Services Card may be able to get emergency dental care, such as pain relief or extractions.

                You may still need to pay some of the treatment cost.

                Not free, only covers pain relief and extractions.


                You don’t need to tell more lies: I’ll take them as read.

                • adam

                  Here was me thinking it was because Baba Yaga was dumb, now thanks to One Anonymous Bloke I have to add, dumb and liar to my analysis of Baba Yaga.

                  Not sure I appreciate that One Anonymous Bloke, I had Baba Yaga pegged as a callous bumpkin, now I’m think there might be some rat cunning behind their oh so predictable tirade of hate.

                • Baba Yaga

                  “Therefore your comment specifically excludes children, you lying piece of shit.”

                  Nope, it specifically INCLUDED children.

                  ““Another article shows that an extraordinary number of children are admitted to hospitals because of tooth decay. ”
                  Well ignorance knows no bounds. “Children in New Zealand who meet the eligibility criteria for publicly funded health and disability services are entitled to free basic oral health services from birth to 17 years of age (until their 18th birthday).” https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/services-and-support/health-care-services/visiting-dentist/publicly-funded-dental-care

                  Learn to read, OAB. Learn to read. Here, I’ll quote the comment I was responding to again:

                  ““Another article shows that an extraordinary number of children are admitted to hospitals because of tooth decay. ”

                  Children. Children. Children.

                  Get it now?

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Your statement that “…in NZ we have public dental system that provides free dental care to those who qualify for a Community Services Card.”…is a lie.

                    Twist and squeal and divert and deflect and lie all you want about it, liar.

      • babayaga 23.3.2

        Click on the link in my post above.

    • Tricledrown 23.4

      babygaga the latest research shows sugar and fats are as addictive as cocaine and heroine.
      Ignorance is bliss.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 23.4.1

        It isn’t ignorance: it’s deliberate calculated mendacity.

      • Baba Yaga 23.4.2

        “…the latest research shows sugar and fats are as addictive as cocaine and heroine.”

        So? Addictions can be kicked. And in moderation, and with sound parental guidance, sugar can be incorporated into a healthy diet. Unlike cocaine.

  24. Ad 24

    My dad had all his teeth removed when he was 14.

    Rural far north, super-poor family, stream water only, no fluoridation, no sweets or sugary drinks, only rawene bread, porridge – with a bit of molasses but only if the cattle auction had been good.

    • saveNZ 24.1

      so are you saying poor nutrition was a factor, not sugar… molasses is not that good for your teeth by the way

      • Ad 24.1.1

        Poverty through the Sugarbag Years, and bad parenting in the case of my Dad’s family.

        The note about molasses was to point out how little actual sugar he had in his diet. I really don’t need telling that it’s a sugar variant. Great way to comprehensively miss the point.

      • Ad 24.1.2

        I am aware that molasses is unrefined sugar, way to go for missing the point.

        In my Dad’s case it was poverty, rural squalor, and really bad parenting.

      • Ad 24.1.3

        Yes I am aware that molasses is unrefined sugar. Way to miss the point on sugar availability.

        Poverty, poor education, and parental neglect did it.

      • Ad 24.1.4

        Top work missing the point about the rare use of molasses.

        Poverty, poor education, and really bad parenting cost my dad his teeth.

        • marty mars

          why was it bad parenting?

          • Ad

            10 children, no money, no time, no resources, subsistence landholding, no belief in education and no education between them, parents split up when he was 9 so he and his younger brother walked from Whangaroa Harbour to Ahipara to be with their mother. My Dad’s bedroom was a car until he was 14.

            • marty mars

              Sounds tough for him and them. Teeth well down the list and that is the same for many today. Thanks for sharing.

    • Graeme 24.2

      If you look through one of the links in the post about the history of the School Dental Service https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5534465/ you’ll see that the situation was pretty dire through the 30’s and post war, mostly linked to really poor nutrition. In the early years of the SDS it was mostly extraction, then fillings, then into the 80’s getting strong on prevention.

      We’ve come a long way wiht dental health and it looks like we peaked over the whole population in the late 80’s and have gone backwards since, over the whole population.

      But yuo’re right, it’s nothing like the 50’s or earlier.

  25. chris73 25

    As far as the argument that soft drinks are cheaper than milk well they should be when you consider how each product makes to the shelf it takes far more effort and work to get milk to the shelves

    Whether milk should be subsidized to make it cheaper then thats a discussion for another day

    However you don’t have to buy buy sugar laden soft drinks as there are plenty of low sugar or no sugar coke products and, after going through the shelves of my local Countdown, low sugar soft drinks are cheaper than their Coke counter parts:


    Now milk is a great product that everyone should be drinking, I’m currently putting away approx 2 ltrs per day (I’m on a bulking up strength routine) however as good as milk and even though lactose isn’t as “bad” for you as other sugars you still have to brush your teeth a couple of times per day

    Also tap water is still the cheapest drink there is and shouldn’t be an issue for anyone (except Dunedin ’cause I’m assuming that the water still tastes like ass)

    • saveNZ 25.1

      Oh and water pollution in Havlock North… and everywhere where there is becoming so much ground pollution the town supply is effected…

      now the new thing in Auckland is to offer soda water instead of tap water for free… just noticed that the health line are warning it can be very bad for your teeth as very acidic…

      • chris73 25.1.1

        But for most tap water is still the best and cheapest drink avalable

        • saveNZ

          Sadly more aquifers are being contaminated… so how long do you think it will be before more people in NZ have this issue of polluted water supply and no free tap water?

          E. coli found in Waitaki aquifer

          Now we can export pristine water to China and then export it back and charge our own people.

          What a government we have, it’s all give to other countries and individuals to make them richer and then do little while we pollute our aquifers, probably give the water away and tax those they didn’t give the water to to keep it safe…

    • Ed 25.2

      Soft drinks are so cheap because the externalities are not factored into the cost.
      It’s like a Big Mac should cost over $30 if we factor in the environmental damage caused by its production.

      • chris73 25.2.1

        The point is though that soft drinks don’t have to ruin teeth because you can get cheap low sugar or no sugar soft drinks

        • Ed

          Then you’ve got aspartame.

          • chris73

            Which is a separate argument altogether. The point needs to be made, because most people don’t seem to realize, that you can have cheap soft drinks that don’t rot the teeth.

            • Robert Guyton

              Chris, the details of your “seperate argument altogether” mean aspartame is not a reasonable alternative. You could just as well argue that people could save their teeth from decay by drinking lighter fluid.

              • Puckish Rogue

                So its not really about soft drinks wrecking teeth is it, its about soft drinks full stop

    • Tricledrown 25.3

      Chris 73 lactose is just 2sugar molecules weakly bonded very little energy required to break that bond .
      You are poorly informed which is not surprising.

  26. esoteric pineapples 26

    Everyone thinks it is those on benefits who are the least able to afford to go to the dentist, but it is actually those on low wages who are really stuck between a rock and hard place as they can get no government assistance. I’ve been in that position myself, and I can say you know you are poor when you have a real problem with a tooth and you can’t afford to go to the dentist. I had an abscess balloon up in my face because I couldn’t afford to do anything about the tooth.

  27. Kay 27

    A bit late into this thread here. Veuotouiper @12.4.1 raised the issue of DHB hospital dental departments that theoretically exist for people with Community services cards and a few other criterias, eg medical complications meaning private dentists unable/unwilling to treat. It used to be relatively easy to access these all over the country but of course these have now fallen victim to the health cuts.

    I was “lucky” enough to get into my local hospital dental dept many years ago and have been able to stay there. I’ve got ongoing dental problems caused by my meds and a specific condition that no amount of good hygiene practice can prevent.There’s a charge but it really is minimal, but what I’ve really noticed is the difference in cost for ‘accessories’ so to speak. A custom made splint is currently $110- privately it’s at least $500. Recently I lost my lower incisors (not to bad hygiene btw) and needed a partial plate. A metal one cost me $650- privately it would’ve been $1500. So via the hospital it’s more or less wholesale.

    The bitter irony though is, despite being on their books and going there for regular checkups, if there’s an emergency between appts, I can’t get in. You have to phone in at 8am and take your chances, in other words, pretty much zero. So the dental treatments that ultimately cost the most usually end up being done privately. And no, I don’t bother with the WINZ grant- my practice wants payment on the day and if I’m in severe pain I’ll get it done. I’ve got a credit card from years back and I’ll worry about paying it back later. Plus even getting into see WINZ can take so long and the stress just isn’t worth it. I know I’m lucky in that respect (having the card) but I figure I’ve got enough to contend with so if pain is fixable I’ll fix it.

    But it’s starting to get tempting to go the full dentures route, if I hadn’t been hearing a lot of horror stories about it, plus even how painful a well fitted partial plate can be. Dentist is saying don’t go that route.

    • Treetop 27.1

      It has become like a lottery being seen by a DHB dentist. I never get seen even with a GPs letter.

      I went to ED once (2 days after an extraction) because too much flesh had been ripped off a tooth, the pain was really bad and I thought I had an infection. The ED doctor told me to see a dentist. I went and knocked on my neighbours door as he is a dentist and he told me I had dry socket, a nerve was exposed from where the tooth had been removed.

  28. Tricledrown 28

    Ed Except when it affects the RWNJ, s
    They never take responsibility SCF, GFC
    Micro Bovis they come crying to govts around the world for govt welfare!

  29. Clean bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Place stuffed animals, shoes, and other items that can’t be washed in the dryer and run on high for 30 minutes.

    • lprent 29.1

      You are assuming that people have dyers and that they can afford the power to run them at those levels.

      It also seems to have very little to do with teeth.

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