Lakes welcomes three new dental vans to fleet


Three new dental vans have joined Te Whatu Ora Health Lakes’ fleet of mobile units to deliver oral health care to children.

Three new dental vans have joined Te Whatu Ora Health Lakes’ fleet of mobile dental units to deliver oral health care to children in the Lakes’ area.

The mobile dental vans are single chair and able to be driven with a car license by a staff member. This means the service now has the flexibility to visit some places which were previously not accessible with the larger units.
The three vans have been given Māori names of local maunga (mountains); Tauhara, Matawhaura and Whakapoungakau.

Te Whatu Ora Community Oral Health Service Manager for Lakes Juan Restrepo says the service is very excited at the arrival of the smaller, more flexible new dental vans.

The other six mobile dental units already in service are large two-chair units which require a truck, a driver and a large amount of space to park and get access to services.

“The new mobile units will be an improvement because we will be able to visit children at kohanga reo and childcare centres we previously could not reach and we are very happy to do that. It will also allow us to use the vans for different purposes like oral health education and support for health events run by other areas.”

Restrepo says the new single chair units can do everything to treat children including x-rays. Sterilisation of equipment will be done at the hospital and sterilised clean sets of equipment will be picked up each day.
There are 25,000 children currently enrolled with the Community Oral Health Service. Staffing shortages and COVID have impacted the service’s ability to see every child every year, but the three new dental vans will improve access for more rural areas.

Restrepo says parents are encouraged to enroll their toddlers with the Community Oral Health Service when they are one-year old. The focus of the service is on seeing babies and children early to support parents to look after their babies and children’s teeth and prevent tooth decay. Dental Therapists also begin working with and educating parents on how best to look after their children’s teeth.
“It’s essential children are enrolled as early as possible. When children are young it’s important to introduce them to the therapist and to the environment to make it more familiar when check- ups start.”

Juan says many young people don’t understand they are entitled to free dental care until they are 18 years old either with the Community Oral Health Service or private dentists who are registered to provide free treatment to adolescents.
“We encourage all young people (under 18) to access dental care while it’s still free, nobody should turn 18 with a lot of dental work needing to be done.”

Te Whatu Ora Lakes Community Oral Health Services are for all children and adolescents (aged 0 to your 18th birthday) and it’s free. Services are delivered from eight modern fixed clinics, five in Rotorua, two in Taupō and one in Tūrangi. There are also now nine mobile dental units which travel to different sites throughout the region.

To enrol or for more information ring 0800 Lakes Teeth (0800 525 378) or text 027 578 0275