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‘Be proud of your mouth’

Tuesday 21 March 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Health, Local, National


‘Be proud of your mouth’
Secretary of Te Marae Ora Bob Williams and staff of Oral Health Care at the launch of the world. 23032015

Oral health care and mouths play a big part in everyday life - enjoying a meal, laughing with family and friends, singing, kissing loved ones and feeling your best.

And in the heart of a healthy mouth, lies much more.

“Be proud of your mouth for a lifetime smile,” said Te Marae Ora Secretary Bob Williams at the launch the World Oral Health Day yesterday at Constitution Park, which promotes the ‘Be Proud of Your Mouth’, campaign emphasising the importance of maintaining good oral health.

“There has been an increase in people requiring dentures which indicates that we have not been looking after our mouths for a long time,” said Williams.

This year Te Marae Ora is restructuring some of the services it delivers starting with the Oral Health Department.

Children at schools are now being prioritised.

A welcoming child friendly cubicle at the Dental Department is a key aspect of this reorientation programme and a waiting area for mothers with children.

Te Marae Ora have engaged a partnership with BSP (Bank of the South Pacific) who are on board with new child cubicle and have a three year Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry with a special focus on the Pa Enua.

Dr Seema Lal-Kumar, Te Marae Ora’s children’s dentist said, the new children’s dental booth is to give them a more pleasant experience than what their parents went through, “that avoidance pattern - so that we get away from that.

It’s all about creating the atmosphere where a child is able to come with their family and have a nice check-up in sort of an informal environment so that we prepare them for some good dentistry, she said.

“Visiting a dentist regularly usually oral issues are small and when things are small it’s easier to get fixed, and it’s also easier for the oral health services because the treatment doesn’t cost them much,” says Dr Lal-Kumar.

“Because in the Pacific we should be really holding onto the preventive services, when you need complex services it becomes very expensive and we don’t have the services and we don’t have that kind of that work force.

“Everybody is delivering basic primary oral health preventive care at community level,” said Dr Lal-Kumar.

Screening data used internally by Te Marae Ora Oral Health Care service to plan and address the treatment the community requires has seen an increase in oral health care needs.

 “Of course we’ve seen increased oral health cases all over the world and the Pacific Islands,” said Dr Seema Lal-Kumar, Te Marae Ora’s children’s dentist.

“Also, because of Covid a lot of the preventive programmes could not be delivered the way it has been previously - that is another reason and there could be an increase in the amount of dental care reported and dental screening,” she said.

The increased access to processed food especially those containing sugars that people have easy access also contributes to poor oral health and the health services with limited resources need to address everything that these foods bring with it, starting with the mouth causing dental decay and then going on causing NCDs (Non Communicable Diseases) later on in life, Dr Lal-Kumar added.

Director of Dental Services Danny Areai said that currently there are regulations and controls in place in regards to the sugary foods and beverages.

Areai is also pleased to see the new children’s dentistry cubicle for the kids to have a more comfortable welcoming environment when visiting the dentist.