The oral health of the Wairoa community is improving, thanks to the efforts of Lumino The Dentists volunteers.

Dr Isha Woodhams with a patient.

This January was the fifth time Lumino clinicians from around the country travelled to the Hawke’s Bay township of Wairoa, offering their services for free in one of the Lumino Mobile Units.

The joint initiative between Lumino The Dentists and the Ngati Pahauwera Development Trust has meant hundreds of members of the community have been treated, relieved of pain and given oral health advice and education.

Dental hygienist Kelly Roberts with a patient.

Lead Dentist Dr Tony Dey says he believes the initiative is making a difference, with people who are returning year on year seem to be looking after their teeth better.

“We have seen some positive signs that people that have been coming more consistently are having to have less invasive dental care when they come and see us. It used to be extractions, now they are fillings and cleans.”

Tony says it is heartening to be able to give back.

“It is just generally rewarding to be able to donate your time like that. We are lucky as health professionals that we have skills people need and we can give back in that manner,” he adds.

This year, over 100 patients were seen in the two weeks starting January 14. Around $40,000 worth of treatment was performed, most of them being extractions or fillings.

Dental Assistant Tina Grey says with a wait list of over 160 patients, the team of five dentists and further support clinicians knew they were in for a busy two weeks.

“This was my third year of making a difference in Wairoa and every year the people and iwi are very appreciative of the work that is being done and the time we are taking out of our everyday lives to help better theirs,” says Tina.

Dentist Fraser Borland and dental assistant Fleur McHugh with a patient.

Dentist Dr Fraser Borland travelled from Auckland to join the team and says the time volunteering was some of the most fun filled, rewarding and life enhancing experiences he has ever had.”

“My experience has been the highlight of the last two years and I cannot wait to be back and share some beautiful time with the Ngati Pahauwera learning about their culture and amazing way of life,” he says.

Even with the hundreds of patients seen over the past five years, it seems the demand never eases. Dates for next year have already been set and the wait list is growing.