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Nigel Latta talks tough on teeth

Popular television personality and clinical psychologist Nigel Latta was at Waikato Hospital today, speaking to dental professionals about children’s behaviour and how that impacts on their oral health.

He was one of several speakers at the Big Day In 2012, an annual event organised by Waikato District Health Board (DHB) for dental therapists, dentists and other oral health professionals.

The event, which has been running as an annual educational day for dental professional for about 10 years, also included presentations from Hamilton paediatric dentist Dr Katie Ayers, Hamilton orthodontist Dr Andrew Quick and Otago specialist paediatric dentist Dr Dorothy Boyd.

Dental professionals from across the Waikato DHB were invited, as well as those from other district health boards around the North Island, and dentists in private practice.

The Bryant Education Centre (BEC) Auditorium was full, with around 200 attendees.

Latta’s presentation, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Teeth, focused on children’s temperament and personality, and the implications for dental staff.

“Nigel Latta was a real draw card,” says Diane Pevreal, School Dental Service Manager for Waikato DHB. “We’ve seen him on television talking about parenting skills. He’s an engaging presenter with real insights into children and motivating them and their parents to take care of teeth and make regular appointments.”

Pevreal hopes Latta got dental professionals thinking about better ways to engage with parents and children.

“Our contact (with children) is through parents; they make choices for their children about food and drink they consume, so we want to empower parents (through dental professionals) to make healthy decisions.”

She says it’s essential to get families to embrace good oral health practices, including making regular appointments for checkups and treatment, and take care of their teeth daily. “If you don’t brush teeth then eventually you will see ill effects,” says Pevreal.

Event organiser Rob Aitken, Waikato DHB’s principal dental officer, works hard each year to put together a programme that is relevant and interesting.

The theme this year was around treatment decisions in everyday clinical dentistry. “Part of the focus was about preventing holes and decay, and managing problems rather than treating the end-result,” says Aitken.

Dr Katie Ayers talked about the acute management of dental trauma in primary dentition, Hamilton orthodontist Dr Andrew Quick gave an overview of common childhood orthodontic conditions and timing of treatment, and specialist paediatric dentist Dr Dorothy Boyd discussed decision making in treating children with dental caries, and also did a session on the Hall Technique of using stainless steel crowns in children.

“I hope the presentations encouraged people to think around issues of caring for patients,” says Aitken. “Dentistry is a stressful profession, for dentists and patients, and there are things we can do to improve interactions.”

Aitken says there is much to celebrate in dentistry, with huge changes in services in the past four years, including a new oral health model and new state-of-the-art dental clinics and mobile dental units for schools.

The Big Day In was a huge success, with attendees commenting that they learnt a lot and enjoyed themselves.

For information on Waikato District Health Board’s free basic oral health services for children and teenagers (aged 0-18) phone 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583) or 07 859 9160

ENDS

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