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Dental service goes digital for better and quicker diagnosis

Dental assistant Renee Vick shows mum Jessica Jones the almost instant x-ray results on a lap-top, while dental therapist Jane Sanders continues working with Jorja Mclean (6) of Cambridge Primary School.

Dental assistant Renee Vick shows mum Jessica Jones the almost instant x-ray results on a lap-top, while dental therapist Jane Sanders continues working with Jorja Mclean (6) of Cambridge Primary School.

Waikato District Health Board’s Waikids dental service is getting a $290,000-plus boost to modernise its x-ray software and storage system.

Parents, children and dental therapists will be able to clearly see what’s happening in a child’s mouth within two minutes of taking a radiograph. The images can be transferred between dental clinics, and a second opinion from supporting dentists is easily sought if required.

Diane Pevreal, Community Oral Health manager said the new digital x-ray system will be installed in all Waikids dental clinics and mobiles over the next couple of weeks. The library of images will start to be populated from this year onwards.

“We welcome parents to attend their child’s assessment appointment and see what’s happening inside teeth and under the gum line – that’s something which can’t be seen without this valuable digital diagnostic aid,” she said.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to discuss all of the options available if any further care is needed.

“Decay can be easily reversed if it’s picked up in its earliest stages, and there are now many more ways of managing decay than what was available in the past,” she said.

The new system replaces x-rays films that were posted away for developing and results could take up to two weeks to get back. It will save the DHB over $88,000 per year in costs associated with postage and x-ray processing.

Dental x-rays use very low levels of radiation to produce an image that’s about a third of the size of a credit card. The amount of radiation is similar to the background radiation from an airplane journey. The digital x-ray system reduces the amount of radiation required to get an image to about half of this again, and the results are diagnostically superior and can be enlarged to the size of a computer screen. They can also be printed at some clinics.

Dental care is free for all 0-17 year olds. Parents are encouraged to attend with their child from 1 year of age onwards. Further information is available on the website or by phoning 0800 TALK TEETH or 07 8599160.

ENDS

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