Back to Thinking well

Maintaining dental health for overall health

Are you one of the 52% of Kiwis who dodge the dentist unless you’re in pain?1 Staying on top of your dental health is important for your wellbeing, and here’s why.

Dental decay is the most common chronic and irreversible disease in New Zealand.2 Oral health is a key indicator of overall health, wellbeing, and quality of life.3 Lost teeth, decay and bad breath can also affect your self-esteem, and there is an established link between oral health and depression.4 As well as affecting your oral and mental health, poor oral care can lead to more serious health problems, such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, endocarditis (an infection of your heart lining) and pneumonia.5,6,7

Your annual dental check-up is a Warrant of Fitness for your mouth

A dental check-up is not an optional extra; we’re better off thinking of it as an annual Warrant of Fitness - necessary to keep our teeth and gums healthy, and to prevent more significant issues from arising.

And just like with your car, there’s a lot you can do in-between check-ups to keep your oral health in good condition.

Switch to drinking water

Water is free, it's easy, and it's good for your teeth. Most tap water in New Zealand contains fluoride, which the New Zealand Dental Association supports and promotes for healthy teeth.8 Fizzy drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks and juices, powdered drinks, cordial and flavoured waters all contain sugar and other acids which eat away at your tooth enamel and cause cavities.

Brush twice per day with an electric toothbrush

It may seem simple, but make sure everyone in the household is brushing morning and night with fluoride toothpaste. Consider making the move to an electric toothbrush. In one study, researchers found that people who brushed with electric toothbrushes (compared to those who brushed manually) reduced plaque by 21% and gingivitis by 11% after three months.9 And don’t forget to floss!

Don’t forget your tongue

Giving your tongue a gentle brush or scrape is something you want to incorporate into your routine. Cleaning your tongue can significantly reduce plaque and improve your dental health.10

See your dentist regularly

Kiwis who regularly go to the dentist have better-than-average oral health and have less decayed teeth.11

If cost is holding you back, then consider getting HealthEssentials day-to-day health insurance. It can be much more affordable than you think - and it makes the decision to see the dentist an easy one.

If you’re under 35, HealthEssentials from Southern Cross starts from just $1 per day.12 HealthEssentials is a day-to-day health cover plan that reimburses you for 75% of the cost of visiting your dentist, GP, nutritionist, optometrist for new glasses, physio, osteopath and more, up to the policy limits. Plus, you’ll also be able to tap into great Southern Cross member offers.

Find out more about Southern Cross HealthEssentials day-to-day health cover and get a free instant quote

  1. Ministry of Health. (2018). Annual Data Explorer 2017/18: New Zealand Health Survey. Retrieved from https://minhealthnz.shinyapps.io/nz-health-survey-2017-18-annual-data-explorer/_w_53340c87/
  2. (n.d.). Our Oral Health: Key findings of the 2009 New Zealand Oral Health Survey | Ministry of Health NZ. Retrieved from https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/our-oral-health-key-findings-2009-new-zealand-oral-health-survey
  3. World Health Organisation. (2018). Oral Health. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/oral-health
  4. Cademartori , M., Corrêa , M., Demarco , F., Nascimento , G., & Gastal , M. (2018, September 6). Is depression associated with oral health outcomes in adults and elders? A systematic review and meta-analysis. - PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30191327
  5. Taylor GW, Borgnakke WS. Periodontal disease: associations with diabetes, glycemic control and complications. Oral Dis. 2008;14(3):191-203.
  6. Sanz M, Ceriello A, Buysschaert M, et al. Scientific evidence on the links between periodontal diseases and diabetes: Consensus report and guidelines of the joint workshop on periodontal diseases and diabetes by the International Diabetes Federation and the European Federation of Periodontology. J Clin Periodontol. 2018;45(2):138-149.
  7. McNamme, D. (2014, October 8). Beyond tooth decay: why good dental hygiene is important. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/283649.php
  8. (n.d.). Community Water Fluoridation | New Zealand Dental Association. Retrieved from https://www.nzda.org.nz/public/our-initiatives/community-water-fluoridation
  9. Yaacob M, Worthington HV, Deacon SA, Deery C, Walmsley AD, Robinson PG, Glenny AM. Powered versus manual toothbrushing for oral health. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD002281. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002281.pub3.
  10. Wienner, J., & Rupesh. (2016). Tongue cleaning methods: A Review. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303859687_Tongue_cleaning_methods_A_Review
  11. Thomson, W. M., Williams, S. M., Broadbent, J. M., Poulton, R., & Locker, D. (2010). Long-term dental visiting patterns and adult oral health. Journal of dental research, 89(3), 307–311. doi:10.1177/0022034509356779 (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2821461/
  12. Premiums are rounded up to the nearest dollar and include a 2.5% direct debit discount. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply.