Story: Dental care

Mobile dental clinic, Northland, 2009

The Community Oral Health Service has operated mobile clinics within some regional district health boards since the reorientation of the School Dental Service in 2006, in order to make dental care more accessible. The Ngāti Hine Health Trust's Hauora Whanui mobile dental clinic travels to isolated Northland schools where there are no dental therapists. Dental therapists Pamela Clark and her assistant, Annie Meenehan, visited schools all over the region. In this 2009 documentary, Patiwe Paewhenua has his teeth examined in the mobile clinic when it stops in the grounds of Matawaia School, south-east of Kaikohe. Bob McKegg, the Northland District Oral Health Advisor, comments on improvements in dental health since children like Patiwe have been able to use mobile dental services. Dental health workers have focused on getting to know children and parents, checking teeth and providing preventive care, and doing fillings and extractions when necessary. Clark and Meenehan tried to make visits to their bus positive experiences for Northland children, whose dental health was among New Zealand's poorest. 

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How to cite this page:

Andrew Schmidt and Susan Moffat, 'Dental care - Dental nurses to dental therapists', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 20 May 2022)

Story by Andrew Schmidt and Susan Moffat, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 6 Nov 2018