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Dental work at Manaia school

Dental treatment a first at Manaia school.

Kids at a remote Coromandel Peninsula school are flashing wide smiles after a visit from the Waikato District Health Board’s Community Oral Health Service.

One of the new mobile dental units was parked up at Te Wharekura o Manaia so pupils aged up to 17 years could get treatment, and for some it was their first experience of the DHB’s oral health services.

Dental therapist Sharon Whittle did the majority of the treatment, while community dentist Jenny Norris carried out the more complex work in the adolescent age group.

“We were certainly made to feel very welcome and now this will be part of our annual plan,’’ Dr Norris said.

The English-born dentist was doing similar work in the UK before arriving in New Zealand two years ago and enjoys her roving Waikato role.

“I’m the only dentist in the service so I see a lot of the country – the whole of the Waikato.’’

Dr Norris enjoys making a difference to people’s lives. “I feel really useful doing this.’’

The kids at Manaia seemed to really appreciate her work. “They were really excellent. Some of them were getting to that age where a smile is becoming more important to them, and some had lots of questions on tooth care.

“And the older ones are getting near the end of eligibility for free dental care which stops at 18 years of age.’’

The service operates 15 mobile clinics in the Waikato DHB area – along with seven fixed clinics ¬– and one of the newest vans was used at Manaia. Dr Norris loves working in them. “They are awesome, really great to work in with loads of room.’’

Staff and patients are well provided for, including a waiting room, complete with television, and a heat pump.

Dr Norris pointed out rural areas like Manaia don’t have a fluoridated water supply, so  advice around the use of  fluoride toothpaste twice daily, flossing regularly and the importance of a healthy diet were reinforced with each child.

“The experience was a very positive one for the dental staff and the patients, who were very receptive to the advice given and appreciative of the treatment received.’’

ENDS

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