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Project Aims To Improve Oral Health In Under-Fives

13 October, 2008

CDHB-Funded Project Aims To Improve Oral Health In Under-Fives

The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) is funding a three-year initiative that will aim to improve oral health among children under five years old. The CDHB has contracted Canterbury Community Primary Health Organisation to deliver the initiative on behalf of Canterbury’s five primary health organisations (PHOs). A key focus of the service will be to encourage preschoolers and their families to adopt good oral health habits and to access dental therapy services in Canterbury. Oral health services in Canterbury are currently free to children under 18 years old.

The Canterbury Community PHO has invited interested stakeholders to a hui at the Oxford Tce Baptist Church tomorrow. (Tuesday, 14 October). Feedback from the event will help Health Promoters Louise Matson and Nicola Wilmot to develop an implementation plan.

Health Promoter Louise Matson said the project will be collaborative, with stakeholders including General Practice, Well Child/Tamariki Ora providers, community organisations and early childhood education providers. She said the aim was to encourage good oral health habits in childhood, with evidence showing this leads to people having healthier teeth as adults.

Figures show that 42% of children under five years old in Canterbury have tooth decay. “As soon as the first tooth breaks through the gum, there is a risk of decay so it’s important children have the opportunity to access dental therapy services and to develop good oral health habits when they are very young,” she said.

Philippa McQueen, CDHB Planning and Funding Acting Primary Care Portfolio Manager, said the initiative would support General Practice teams, Well Child/Tamariki Ora providers, early childhood education providers and other community organisations to raise awareness of the importance of oral health among children and their families.

“For example, when a child visits their General Practice and the doctor is looking at their throat, or a nurse is giving a vaccination, it’s a perfect opportunity to ask the child or their parent: ‘have you been to a dental therapist?’”

Free oral health checks are available for children from 15 months old, which coincides with one of the free childhood immunisations from General Practices. The under-five oral health promotion initiative will run alongside a similar service for adolescents, which has been recently been extended for another three years.


Media invitation:

The hui will be held at the Oxford Tce Baptist Church, corner of Oxford Tce and Madras St, Christchurch from 12pm-3pm on Tuesday, 14 October.

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