Mobile dental vans improving Oral Health Services at Lakes DHB
Three new mobile dental vans have joined the ranks of the redeveloped Lakes DHB Oral Health Service and figures show the new service model is already making a positive difference.
Oral Health Manager Juan Restrepo says the new mobiles – one in Taupo called Taupo Moana and two new ones in Rotorua called Moerangi and Rangitoto have two chairs and provide state of the art equipment, materials and facilities for everyone from birth to 18 years old. There are already two mobiles working in Rotorua (one is shared with provider Tipu Ora) making a total of five mobile units servicing children in the district.
The reorientation of oral health services is seeing increased demand from preschool aged children with 56 per cent now enrolled (up from 49 per cent in June 2009 ) and the number of adolescents up to 18 years enrolled with either a dentist or the community oral health service has increased from 45 per cent to 70 per cent at the end of 2011.
Juan Restrepo says Lakes DHB is delighted the changes have already shown an improvement in the number of children and adolescents who are enrolled in the oral health service and receiving education, support and if necessary treatment.
In 2011, an increased proportion of five year olds were caries (fillings) free from 40 per cent in 2009 to 59 per cent in 2011 and the average number of decayed, missing and filled teeth has also reduced for five year olds from an average 3.7 teeth in 2007 to 2.69 teeth in 2011.
The focus of oral health services has shifted from treatment to prevention and early intervention, so it’s essential that children are enrolled with a community dental service as early as possible.
Adolescents have always been eligible for FREE dental care until their 18th birthday but can now choose either a dentist as previously or to continue with the community oral health service. This is regardless of whether they are enrolled at school, working, unemployed, or students outside of school.
Changes in the Oral Health Service from 2008, meant the number of fixed dental treatment facilities in schools has dropped because a number of these dental clinics required considerable upgrading to meet current standards. The number of double chair mobile clinics available in the district has increased from two to five. The new approach has seen all nine fixed facilities upgraded to meet the standards for delivering excellent care and they will be open throughout the school year and see more people.
Other schools and communities will be visited by the mobile units. These units are very large and towed by a truck with specific requirements in terms of power and physical space so not all schools can accommodate them.
Juan says a significant amount of work went into deciding where best to locate the nine new dental clinics and how each community would get the best service for its children and adolescents within the available funding.
In the past high schools did not have an on-site facility and adolescents enrolled at a dentist for free dental care. The new model adds to the care currently provided by dentists, with the therapists in the community offering dental care to adolescents as well as dentists.
0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583 384)
Call for any queries about where to access oral health care for children and adolescents 0-18 years.