New dental service for expecting mothers

FIRST VISIT FOR MANY YEARS: Dr Nitish Surathu, part-time dentist for Hauora Tairawhiti, works on Marina Te Maera’s teeth while Arish Naresh, team leader of Hauora Tairawhiti Oral Health Services looks on. The new Hapu Mama Oranga Niho dental service for hapu mama is being trialled by Turanga Health. Picture supplied.

A NEW Service, Hapu Mama Oranga Niho, is helping pregnant mothers in Gisborne to get good dental care.

In a first for New Zealand, hapu mama (pregnant mothers) who are experiencing significant barriers can get free dental checks and some treatment.

The trial was launched by Turanga Health in March and since then 20 women have been through the programme based at the Waharoa Dental Clinic in De Lautour Road next to Ilminster Intermediate School.

Research shows such services improve the birth weight of babies and support families to take better care of their teeth.

The idea for the service came from a thesis written by Arish Naresh, team leader of Hauora Tairawhiti Oral Health Services.

“Our research showed that if we change our approach and empower whanau, this is more likely to improve outcomes for Maori.

“This applies to dental health as much as anything. Trialling this service, we aim to improve oral health for hapu mums.

“This has been shown to improve birth weights and instigate behaviour change after pregnancy.

“We are fortunate to have Dr Nitish Surathu from Amber Dental working part-time for Hauora Tairawhiti.

“He is a community dentist who is working one afternoon per fortnight doing dental checks for the mums.

Treatment plans

“Initial appointments are 30 minutes and the focus is on coming up with a treatment plan.

“Many of these mums have not had any dental care for some time and have multiple teeth issues that need addressing.”

To access the service, lead maternity carers (LMC) and other people working with hapu mama can refer them directly to the Waharoa Dental Clinic.

The mothers can be supported to their dental appointments by kaiawhina, and three hapu mama had a kaiawhina accompany them to the clinic at the launch of the service in March.

They have all seen significant improvement in their dental health and have all given birth to healthy babies.

Mother of five Marina Te Maera was grateful for the opportunity to get her teeth checked. Her healthy baby boy was born in June.

“It's 20 years since I last went to see a dentist,’’ she said.

“I was nervous so it was good to have some support. That really made a difference. Now I have had this opportunity, I want to take better care of my teeth and set a good example for my whanau.”

Moana Reedy also had her teeth checked when the service launched in March.

She has since given birth to a healthy baby boy in May.

“Without support and help with transport, I wouldn’t have been able to get to the dental clinic,” she said.

“I know I can get free dental care until I am 18 but it was good to have someone there with me.”

Both mothers are already booked in for their dental follow-up appointments and will be ready for their babies’ first dental checks at the end of the year.

A NEW Service, Hapu Mama Oranga Niho, is helping pregnant mothers in Gisborne to get good dental care.

In a first for New Zealand, hapu mama (pregnant mothers) who are experiencing significant barriers can get free dental checks and some treatment.

The trial was launched by Turanga Health in March and since then 20 women have been through the programme based at the Waharoa Dental Clinic in De Lautour Road next to Ilminster Intermediate School.

Research shows such services improve the birth weight of babies and support families to take better care of their teeth.

The idea for the service came from a thesis written by Arish Naresh, team leader of Hauora Tairawhiti Oral Health Services.

“Our research showed that if we change our approach and empower whanau, this is more likely to improve outcomes for Maori.

“This applies to dental health as much as anything. Trialling this service, we aim to improve oral health for hapu mums.

“This has been shown to improve birth weights and instigate behaviour change after pregnancy.

“We are fortunate to have Dr Nitish Surathu from Amber Dental working part-time for Hauora Tairawhiti.

“He is a community dentist who is working one afternoon per fortnight doing dental checks for the mums.

Treatment plans

“Initial appointments are 30 minutes and the focus is on coming up with a treatment plan.

“Many of these mums have not had any dental care for some time and have multiple teeth issues that need addressing.”

To access the service, lead maternity carers (LMC) and other people working with hapu mama can refer them directly to the Waharoa Dental Clinic.

The mothers can be supported to their dental appointments by kaiawhina, and three hapu mama had a kaiawhina accompany them to the clinic at the launch of the service in March.

They have all seen significant improvement in their dental health and have all given birth to healthy babies.

Mother of five Marina Te Maera was grateful for the opportunity to get her teeth checked. Her healthy baby boy was born in June.

“It's 20 years since I last went to see a dentist,’’ she said.

“I was nervous so it was good to have some support. That really made a difference. Now I have had this opportunity, I want to take better care of my teeth and set a good example for my whanau.”

Moana Reedy also had her teeth checked when the service launched in March.

She has since given birth to a healthy baby boy in May.

“Without support and help with transport, I wouldn’t have been able to get to the dental clinic,” she said.

“I know I can get free dental care until I am 18 but it was good to have someone there with me.”

Both mothers are already booked in for their dental follow-up appointments and will be ready for their babies’ first dental checks at the end of the year.

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