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Changes to Oral Health Services

Introducing This Page

This page provides a summary of oral health service changes that are planned in our region and throughout the country.

In this section you will also be able to find out the answers to questions often asked by our young patients and parents, including what oral health services will be provided at your local school.

Summary of Dental Service Changes

Despite having good access to oral health services West Coast children have amongst the worst oral health in New Zealand. Just 50% of 5 year olds on the West Coast have no tooth decay and tooth extractions continue to be the leading cause of hospitalisation for West Coast children. 

In an effort to improve this the West Coast District Health Board (WCDHB) will be introducing changes to Oral Health Services to children and adolescents from February 2010. These changes will focus on preventive work and education among families to reduce the need for fillings and extractions.

Changes to service include

  • Preschool Children
    • Will be eligible for enrolment in the service from 12 months of age
    • Those at high risk of tooth decay will be offered 6 monthly topical fluoride applications to prevent tooth decay.
  • Primary School Children
    • Will no longer be pulled directly from class, parents will be contacted directly with appointment times.
    • Parents will be encouraged to accompany their primary school children to appointments and be actively involved in decisions about their children’s care
    • Parents will have increased access to one on one education on how to improve their child/ren(s) oral health
    • Students attending some schools, that currently have their own clinic on site or were previously serviced by mobile facilities or will need to be transported by their parents to a fixed facility (link to service arrangement by school)
  • Adolescents
    • Will now have the choice to remain enrolled with the service beyond year 8, or transfer to a Private Dentist.

From early 2010 changes will also be seen in the facilities from which services will be provided, and the way in which these services are utilised.

  • Clinics at Westport North and Hokitika Primary Schools will be upgraded
  • Utilisation of fixed facilities will be maximised, with all children accessing services in Westport and Hokitika using the upgraded facilities.
  • Seven fixed facilities will be closed
  • Two new mobile treatment facilities will be launched
  • Utilisation of the mobile facilities will be priortised to cover rural and low decile schools
  • Mobile will no longer visit all the schools they did in 2009 (link to service arrangement by school)

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