WDHB set to lead ground-breaking children's oral health trial

12 June 2014
From left: Bianca Allcock, Doctor Dorothy Boyd, Kelly Ryan, Susan Mangan, Noeline Barrow, Hanna Kiff, Barb Dewson and Megan Thiele

Model used to enable dental therapists to train in teeth capping.
Whanganui District Health Board’s Dental Service has been chosen to lead an oral health trial that could revolutionise the way in which caries (holes caused by dental decay) found in the teeth of New Zealand children are managed.
As well as using fillings, WDHB dental services manager Barbara Dewson and her team will use a new technique developed in Scotland which involves placing a stainless steel cap or crown over a child’s decayed tooth thus eliminating the need for drilling.
Early this week, Otago University specialist in dental public health Dr Lyndie Foster Page, Otago University paediatric dentistry specialist Dorothy Boyd and Hutt Valley DHB Public Health dental specialist Kathy Fuge, visited Wanganui Hospital to meet with, and train, the dental therapists taking part in the study which compares the new technique with their usual dental care of Whanganui district children’s teeth.
Following a feasibility study carried out by Hawkes Bay DHB, it was Whanganui DHB which was chosen to be the first in the country to run a randomised control trial using the new method.
Dr Foster Page says it’s a great tribute to Mrs Dewson and her dental therapists that the WDHB was chosen. “Apart from the fact Whanganui’s population is ideal for such a trial because of the state of children’s teeth in the district, we recognised that the WDHB dental team is fully engaged in wanting the best oral health outcome for the district’s children,” Dr Foster Page says.
“It’s an exciting trial for several reasons. Besides the view that it will revolutionise how caries are treated it’s the result of a true collaboration between the WDHB, Otago University, Cure Kids and manufacturing company 3M who are donating the caps and cement used to fit them.
“The WDHB is providing the staff and facilities as part of their business as usual service; Cure Kids is funding the trial; 3M are providing the caps and Dorothy, myself and Kathy are training the dental therapists and managing the trial.”
The three-year trial is set to begin next month. Mrs Dewson says between now and then, communities will receive more information seeking their participation.