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Supervised toothbrushing programme launched in Far North - Northland DHB

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

In late June, the Northland DHB-supervised tooth brushing programme commenced in the Far North, starting at Pukenui and Pukepoto schools, where our oral health team visited the first of an initial 4,300 children.

The total cost per annum to run this Programme is expected to be around $650,000 and we are grateful for a substantial portion of the costs being generously covered by the Clare Foundation.

The Wellington-based philanthropic foundation founded by investor and social entrepreneur Anna Stuck. The Foundation aims to improve oral health outcomes as one of four key focus areas by investing in initiatives that create tangible impact and drive extraordinary change for all.

"As a former dentist, I am really passionate about everyone having the benefit of good oral health," says Ms Stuck. "It is really exciting to support a locally-led initiative that has shown such promising results in the pilot developed by Ellen Clark and the team at Northland DHB."

Alice Montague, Clare Foundation CEO, notes that the rollout of major healthcare projects like the supervised toothbrushing programme is likely to have positive flow-on effects.

"Clare has a systems-level focus, so we are supporting an evaluation alongside the project, and based on the results, we hope that this provides evidence for a wider rollout around the country. This is a great opportunity to invest in a project with the potential to have positive health outcomes for all our tamariki."

The funding provided by Clare Foundation has been managed by Northland Community Foundation as part of Health Fund PLUS, which was set up by Northland DHB and Northland Community Foundation to provide a way for people to give to the DHB by way of donations or endowments.

Each child enrolled in the Programme will be supervised each day at school, brushing their teeth with their gifted toothbrush and case and toothpaste. An assigned oral health coordinator will also provide ongoing oral health education at the schools participating in the Programme.

The Northland DHB Oral Health Service currently provides comprehensive or episodic oral health care to eligible children, adolescents and adults through the Community Oral Health and Hospital Dental Service and private contracts.

Dental care is also provided at Northland DHB hospitals, 18 school-based mobile dental clinics, and seven fixed community dental clinics across the Northland region. The fixed community dental clinics are strategically placed in the main towns of Whangārei, Kerikeri, Kaitaia, Kaikohe, Hokianga, Mangawhai, and Dargaville.

Roll out of the Supervised Toothbrushing programme is phased, with the new model starting with schools in the Hokianga and northern Kaitaia communities. Northland DHB chose to start in these areas to address the higher decay rates of 5-12-year olds living there.

The long-term plan is for the supervised toothbrushing programme to be rolled out at all schools in Northland.

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