The New Zealand Dental Association supports the “Switch to Water” campaign which runs for the month of November; it is committed to improving oral health by reducing the impact of sugar sweetened drinks on New Zealanders.

Chief Executive of the New Zealand Dental Association, Dr David Crum says dentists would rather prevent dental disease than try and repair the damage it causes.

The campaign, aimed at halting the march of tooth decay raises awareness of the damage to teeth caused by soft drinks, energy drinks and juices containing sugar and acid.

Former Silver Fern player Irene van Dyk is backing the campaign as this year’s National Oral Health Day Ambassador.

Irene says that while it’s difficult to avoid sugary drinks completely, and managing kids consumption can be a challenge for parents, she supports the view of the New Zealand Dental Association that sugary drinks are best as an occasional treat.

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Te Hiku Hauora Dental Health Promoters Sonya Butters and Anahera Tripp have been showing their support for the campaign in the patient waiting rooms of the Trusts various GP Clinics. Patients who attended the clinics were offered a free bottle of water and encouraged to view the informative display of “How much sugar is in your drinks”.

Te Hiku Hauora GP Clinic patient Ken Cherrington was visiting his GP when he noticed the display and was shocked by the image demonstrating the number of sugar cubes in the various Coke drinks according to their size.

He commented “I can’t believe that at one time in my life I actually drank three 1.5 litres of Coke per day for 6 days over a lengthy period – all that sugar!” Making lifestyle changes and enjoying the “make the switch to water” challenge he’s now down to one 600ml bottle of coke per week! “I’ve grown to love the taste of chilled water – it’s much more refreshing and hydrating than a can of coke” he says.

Parents and Caregivers were also offered an opportunity to enrol their tamariki 0-17 years for the FREE dental service.