Parents urged to keep children's dental appointments
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“No shows” or more correctly, parents who fail to honour appointments at mobile and fixed dental clinics, are causing headaches for Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) dental therapists.
 
WDHB dental health manager Barb Dewson says a worrying 29 percent of pre-school children’s appointments are broken and often these children are the ones most in need of work on their teeth.
 
“Apart from our concern that children are missing out on dental care it throws out the day for dental therapists who spend a lot of time following up broken appointments,” Mrs Dewson says.
 
“It’s very time consuming and then there’s no guarantee that the child and parent will turn up for the rescheduled appointment.”
 
Mrs Dewson says if parents don’t attend appointments, they miss out on the valuable advice dental therapists will give them about how they can care for the teeth of the whole family. Brushing twice daily with adult strength fluoride toothpaste is one suggestion that the WDHB supports.
 
More than half of children living in the WDHB district have decayed, filled or missing teeth by the time they’re five and the main causes are lack of brushing, and eating and drinking sweet, sticky food and drinks.
 
“Poor dental care in childhood can lead to other health problems,” Mrs Dewson says. “In extreme cases it can even lead to serious health issues later in life. There is also no getting away from the fact that fillings received in second teeth have to be maintained right through adult life and that can be very expensive.”
 
Mrs Dewson says high sugar diets that lead to tooth decay often result in early extractions of baby teeth. And this can cause permanent teeth to move which can lead to crowding problems and then orthodontic treatment during a child’s teenage years.
 
“It’s not a pretty picture that I’m painting but unfortunately it is the reality of what can and does happen when children don’t see dental therapists. So I urge parents to keep their appointments and if they can’t, to let us know so we can reschedule them,” Mrs Dewson says.
 
“We know that some parents find these appointments quite difficult. We understand that they hate seeing their children distressed but it really is worth the effort. Children who receive good dental care early in life always thank their parents for it eventually.”