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Waikato Welcomes First Ever Male Dental Therapist

12 April 2013

Waikato Welcomes First Ever Male Dental Therapist

Women alone have manned the Community Oral Health Service in the Waikato region for just short of a century.

Until now.

Ajeshwar Lal has joined The Cambridge Community Dental Clinic as the first ever male dental therapist for the region.

The school-based dental service commenced in 1921 and was originally intended as a female profession.

Mr Lal will be based in a new dental clinic at Cambridge to provide free dental care for 0-17 year olds from the greater Waipa area. His wife also works for the Community Oral Health Service as a dental assistant.

“I am excited about this opportunity and looking forward to giving my best for the region. The job we do can be performed equally as well by males and females,” he said.

Mr Lal trained as a dentist in Fiji prior to immigrating to New Zealand and becoming registered as a dental therapist. He worked for Tairawhiti DHB before relocating to the Waikato.

Waikato DHB Community Oral Health service manager Diane Pevreal is pleased to see a step towards gender balance in the profession.

“It’s fantastic – we are very pleased to have Ajesh on board. Though there remains much in the way of opportunity with the ratio now at 1:50 male to female dental therapist practitioners,” she said.

The three year double-degree graduates are in high demand across New Zealand and Australia irrespective of their gender.

“Locally, we're now experiencing shortages in dental therapists that we'd anticipated several years ago, with a number of dental therapists retiring and others of retirement age. We encourage Waikato students of both genders to consider this career choice,” she said.

The Community Oral Health Service is valued in the community for the high quality free care provided by dedicated and well qualified staff.

The Service provides free basic care at more than 160 school sites annually using a combination of both mobile dental clinics and traditional dental clinics located on some school grounds. It also has strong links with dentists and hospital-based dental services.

Dental therapy is an attractive job with regular hours and outstanding conditions. Anyone interested in knowing more about a career in dental therapy may contact service staff, or phone 0800 TALK TEETH.

About Waikato District Health Board and Health Waikato:

Waikato DHB is responsible for planning, funding and providing quality health and disability support services for the 373,220 people living in the Waikato DHB region. It has an annual turnover of $1.2 billion and employs more than 6450 people.

Health Waikato is the DHB’s main provider of hospital and health services. It has six groups across five hospital sites, three primary birthing units, two continuing care facilities and 20 community bases offering a comprehensive range of primary, secondary and tertiary health services.

A wide range of independent providers deliver other Waikato DHB-funded health services - including primary health, pharmacies and community laboratories.

www.waikatodhb.health.nz

ENDS

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