Healthier smiles and better knowledge are being anticipated in Napier, as students in the area are being encouraged to take ownership of their oral health.

A joint initiative between Tamatea High School and Lumino The Dentists’ Tamatea practice is aiming to help students take responsibility of their oral health through education and free and regular dental visits.

Conveniently located right next door to each other, the team at Lumino Tamatea and the Principal of Tamatea High School Robin Fabish started having discussions about a possible partnership last year. This year, the scheme was put into concrete and the practice has seen a influx of students through the door since.

Bottom row left to right: Hayley Hodsen PA, Andrew Biggs Yr9 Student, Amy Wright DA, Brenna Whitaker DA, Dr Naomi Ting, Belinda Clapperton DA, Maoneisa Tuala Yr12 Student. Top row left to right: Dr Desmond Cheong, Mr Robin Fabish Principal, Lucy Vlnasova DA, Dr Isha Woodhams, Lisa Timu PM, Lucy Cabot Oral Health Therapist.

Despite dental care being free for under 18-year-olds, Practice Manager at Lumino Tamatea Lisa Timu says many of the students they see are uneducated about oral care and presenting with irreversible damage.

“We see kids riddled with caries, which had they been seeing the dentist regularly through the years, wouldn’t be the case.”

“It comes down to education, or lack of,” she says.

Lisa says most students currently don’t have much awareness around their oral health, but that the Lumino Tamatea team are hoping to change that.

Lisa and Oral health therapist/hygienist Lucy Cabot went along to a school assembly last month where they were invited to speak about the importance of oral health.

“It was a great experience,” says Lisa. “And it was important for the kids to put a face to a name.”

“The more they know about the importance of looking after one’s teeth and gums, the more they will want to come see us, and take their oral health into their own hands.”

“We spoke about what Lumino offers not only to the students, but to their whanau too,” she says.

Mr Robin Fabish – Principal of Tamatea High School.

The arrangement between the school and the practice sees students visit the dentist during school hours for varying reasons and procedures – be it just a check-up, x-ray if necessary or cleaning to remove plaque, staining and tartar.  Dentists will also do fillings and perform extractions for teeth that have been badly affected by decay.

Lisa says plans are in motion to widen the scheme to include students from other schools in and around Hawke’s Bay.

Hayley Hodsen PA, Mr Robin Fabish Principal of Tamatea High School, Dr Isha Woodhams, Lisa Timu PM.