The annual grant, which aims to improve dental care and education in the Pacific Islands, was given to a team of dental professionals from the Merivale Dental Group in Christchurch, New Zealand, known as the “MDG Angels.”
They applied for the grant after one of their staff visited the Cook Islands and saw the need that exists here for better dental care. The funding will allow the five MDG Angels to take their services to Rarotonga for a week-long offering of free dental services and education for targeted patients.
“We are thrilled to have received this grant to support our programme, which is designed to help combat the prevalence of periodontal diseases and oral infections due to the lack of prevention and access to dental services in Rarotonga,” said Merivale Dental Group director Dr Jenny Kim, who spearheaded the team initiative.
Dr Kim says the programme will also involve teaching children about the importance of oral hygiene from a young age, including correct brushing and flossing techniques, as well as discussion about the implications of high plaque levels and a high sugar diet.
Adults will also benefit, with the programme aiming to offer dental services in partnership with the local hospital to target diabetic patients and those under cardiovascular care, offering periodontal assessment and treatment, radiographs, extractions of abscessed teeth and restorative dentistry for carious teeth. Any leftover supplies will be donated to the Tupapa dental clinic. The group will treat this programme as a pilot, following which they plan to undertake a thorough evaluation process to improve on efficiencies for future programmes.
In 2012, the partnership between the Wrigley Company Foundation and the NZDA was formed to improve the reach and quality of dental treatment and education to at-risk communities. The Community Service Grant programme provides funding to volunteer dentists and teams of allied dental professionals to cover the purchase of supplies, treatments and other expenses including educational material, to develop new and expand existing oral health community service projects in New Zealand and the Pacific.
“This year, we received 26 applications of merit from across the country and we are thrilled that funding from the grants will have a positive impact on oral health education and treatment for many at-need Kiwis and this year, Cook Islanders,” says Wrigley Pacific Corporate Affairs Director, Catherine Pemberton.
“The grants are vitally important to help dental professionals carry out much-needed community service work for vulnerable people from all sorts of communities.”