Topic: Education

Read returns to his roots to talk teeth

By Leah Te Whata
  • Auckland

All Blacks captain Kieran Read went back to his roots today, surprising the kids at his old primary school, Ōpāheke and spreading the word about the importance of dental health.

Read is getting out in the community, showing kids from his old school the effects sugar has on their teeth.

Statistics say that 40% of the country's five-year-olds have tooth decay, but for Māori, that figure is almost 60%.

Waitematā DHB spokesperson Hellen Tane says sugar is to blame.

Hellen Tane from Te Poari Hauora o Waitematā says, "Most health professionals will absolutely support the sugar tax, I think that's a really important thing to support.  Helping vulnerable families to eat healthily and protecting families can only be good."

"It's a hard one," says Read, "You understand the circumstances of families and costs of different drinks around in New Zealand but certainly it'll be a great way of sending the right message to kids and I think that's the most important thing- the education around it."

Tane says the focus needs to be on prevention rather than treatment.

"Extending that preventive model [to] the young mums who can't access dental care at the moment would be a wonderful help for our Māori families."

The Bright Smiles Bright Futures message will continue to be promoted free in schools.