People with children aged between 1 and 18 years needing dental exams or treatment can turn up to Hawke’s Bay DHB’s community dental hub in Flaxmere between 9am and 4pm from 13 January and be seen, no appointment necessary.
Hawke’s Bay DHB Oral Health and Child Development Service Manager, Jeanette Frechtling, said its oral health service team based at Flaxmere’s Totara Health was primed and ready to help as many local children as possible by making access to its services easier for whānau during the January school holiday period. Free toothbrushes and toothpaste would also be handed out.
Access to care is usually by pre-arranged appointments. All basic dental care services are free in New Zealand until the age of 18.
“The DHB is very mindful that in order to improve our oral health statistics for children, particularly in the 0 to 12 year age group, we need to be the first ones to look at our own system and service barriers, said Mrs Frechtling.
Attendance rates are lower for Māori and Pacific tamariki aged 0-12 years in Hawke’s Bay than non-Maori. In 2019, attendance for Māori tamariki was 78.2%, Pacifica 77.5% and for other children attendance rates were 90.5%.
“The busyness and barriers of everyday life and work commitments often mean people can’t make pre-planned appointments, so by opening our doors during the school holidays for walk-in appointments, we hope to make it easier for people.”
Mrs Frechtling said for many whānau, it was also incredibly important to talk about any care or treatment that might be needed for their tamariki.
“Our oral health team is amazing and we have a wonderful Kaiwhina also available at the clinic who is able to take the time to korero with whānau and explain treatment or oral health care, as well as comfort those needing treatment who are nervous.”
All families with pre-schoolers and school-aged children up to aged 18 can either text for an appointment on 027-453-5282, or simply drop into Totara Health, 90 Caernarvon Drive, Flaxmere between 9am and 4pm Monday-Friday for their free appointment.