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Back to school with an oral health check

The school holidays are over, and it’s time for children and their parents to brush up on dental health routines.

After a summer of sweet snacks and Christmas treats, the start of the new school year is the perfect time to establish a healthy dental routine, says Waikato DHB Community Oral Health Service Manager Diane Pevreal.

She recommends children get an oral health check, available free to children from birth to 12, and adolescents from 13 to 17 through 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583).

Waikato District Health Board has invested in six new purpose-built dental clinics on school sites around the region, at Cambridge Middle School, Peachgrove Intermediate School, Frankton Primary School, Fairfield Intermediate School, Morrinsville Primary School and Firth Primary School in Matamata.

Waikato DHB will retain a lease agreement with Crawshaw School in Hamilton to continue using its existing dental clinic, and Tokoroa Hospital’s dental clinic is currently being refurbished, and will be the eighth community dental clinic, due to reopen in March.

In addition new, state-of-the-art mobile dental vans will visit selected schools throughout the region. The mobile dental vans will park on schools sites for around 10 weeks or until all the school’s children have been seen.

“The service is highly mobile, allowing it to be back at schools more frequently where decay is a problem and revisit children most in need,” says Pevreal. “Our focus is shifting to preventive care and this unit is equipped to diagnose decay and treat it in the early stages.

Schools that do not have a new clinic at their school will receive treatment at a mobile service or may need to travel to a clinic.

In 2009 Waikato DHB announced a major overhaul to its School Dental Service, at a cost of $9.7million, after it found that 77 of the 78 school-owned dental clinics staffed by Waikato DHB needed replacing or refurbishment to comply with new legislation.

Dental therapists are encouraging parents to come to appointments with their children and inspect the new mobile vans. Therapists will be available to answer any questions parents have about improving their children’s dental health, and preschoolers of any age are also welcome to see a dental therapist (make an appointment through 0800 TALK TEETH or 0800 825 583.

Pevreal says parents can get children into a healthy dental routine, including brushing teeth twice a day (morning and night).

She also warns parents to watch what goes into school lunch boxes, particularly food and drinks high in sugar such as muesli bars, fruit leathers, biscuits, and carbonated soft drinks. “There is nothing wrong with (drinking) milk or water, but juice can be just as damaging as fizzy drinks,” says Pevreal. “We advise parents to do a quick check of lunch boxes and see if they can find healthier choices.”

Call 0800 TALK TEETH (07 859 9160) to enrol in the free oral health service (for 0 to 18-year-olds) or to make an appointment.

ENDS

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Mobile: 021 671 239
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