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Dental assistant upskilling to help the community

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

After 30-plus years working as a dental assistant, Mrs Beaumont is on her way to achieving a long-held goal.

"I always wanted to study but with two children it wasn’t possible until recently. With the support of my husband I left my job to study full-time. It’s a huge sacrifice as I’m in Auckland for most of the year and we’re getting by on one income."

Mrs Beaumont saw just how great the need was for better oral health when she started working in Flaxmere five years ago. By upskilling, she hopes to better serve the community.

Currently in her first year of a three-year Bachelor of Health Science (oral health) degree, Mrs Beaumont spent her summer working at the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s community dental hub in Flaxmere.

People with children aged between 1 and 18 years needing dental exams can turn up to the dental hub between 9am and 4pm and be seen, no appointment necessary. Free toothbrushes and toothpaste are also being handed out.

All basic dental care services are free in New Zealand until the age of 18 however, usually by pre-arranged appointments.

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%.

Mrs Beaumont says it’s exciting to be part of an initiative that’s breaking down the barriers in communities who need it most.

"We’re engaging with whānau so they understand the importance of good oral hygiene and the big part it plays in keeping children happy and healthy.

"It’s so rewarding when you provide much-needed treatment to a child that makes a real difference to their health and wellbeing. I’d love to come back here once I’ve finished my studies."

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.

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