Wellington Regional Dental Service has come up with a targeted initiative to address known inequalities in oral health outcomes for preschool aged children.
The Bee Healthy Early Intervention and Prevention team has identified 65 early childhood centres (ECCs) involving approximately 1700 preschool children. These centres include Te Kohanga Reo and Pacific early childhood centres, along with some other ECCs. The targeted ECCs are being supported to create and maintain an environment which promotes the oral health and overall health and wellbeing of the children and their whanau.
Oral health education and information is provided for ECC teachers, support staff, students and families to raise awareness of the importance of teeth and key prevention messages.
All children enrolled at the ECC are enrolled with Bee Healthy Regional Dental Service.
ECCs are supported to develop/review nutrition policies to support oral health.
Children at the ECC are provided the opportunity to receive their free annual dental examination either onsite within their ECC or by “walking bus” to the local Bee Healthy Dental Clinic.
Wellington Regional Dental Service Clinical Director Kathryn Fuge said the initiative had been well-received by the centres, families and by the therapists carrying out the examinations.
“The walking bus and onsite dental examinations have provided children with the opportunity to become familiar and comfortable with dental services in a fun, friendly environment and with the support of their peers.
“By working with the ECC teachers and support staff, and through them the families, we hope to educate and instil the importance of oral health within the wider community.”