Keen for dental therapists to extend services

Two-thirds of New Zealanders would have no objection to appropriately trained dental therapists providing dental care for all ages, a survey commissioned by the dental therapy profession found.

Currently New Zealand’s approximately 1000 dental and oral therapists are only allowed to provide dental care services for children up to the age of 18.

But Australian and British therapists can provide basic dental care to adults — and therapists here argue that allowing appropriately trained therapists to offer adult care could help make dental care more accessible.

Arish Naresh, chairman of the New Zealand Dental and Oral Health Therapists’ Association, said it commissioned Colmar Brunton to carry out an independent survey to see whether there was public support for the association advocating for New Zealand therapists to be trained and allowed to offer adult care.

The survey of 500 New Zealanders found that two-thirds (66 percent) had no objection to dental and oral therapists, with appropriate training, providing dental care for all ages.

The highest support was from the 24 to 34-year-old age group (73 percent).

Mr Naresh, who is director of allied health and technical services at Hauora Tairawhiti, and manages the health board’s dental services, said the 24 to 34-year-old age group were found in the 2009 Oral Health Survey to have “worrying levels of dental disease” and low attendance rates, with even lower attendance rates in 18-24 year-olds.

As well, 67 percent of respondents were open to dental and oral health therapists providing oral health care for the elder in residential aged-care facilities.

Mr Naresh also works part-time for a private dental practice offering dental care to adolescents.

He said a 2012 survey of older people’s oral health found that 61 percent of people in residential care had untreated decay in one or more teeth. The association believed therapists could make a valuable contribution in this area working as part of an oral healthcare team alongside dentists, dental hygienists, dental technicians and dental assistants.

The survey findings would be shared with key stakeholders, including the two training schools, the Dental Council, the Ministry of Health, district health boards and the other professional associations.

Mr Naresh believes health boards should move out of public dental health services which could be provided by primary health organisations or iwi providers.

Currently the vast majority of the dental and oral therapists in New Zealand work for district health boards providing free school dental health services up to the age of 13.

Two-thirds of New Zealanders would have no objection to appropriately trained dental therapists providing dental care for all ages, a survey commissioned by the dental therapy profession found.

Currently New Zealand’s approximately 1000 dental and oral therapists are only allowed to provide dental care services for children up to the age of 18.

But Australian and British therapists can provide basic dental care to adults — and therapists here argue that allowing appropriately trained therapists to offer adult care could help make dental care more accessible.

Arish Naresh, chairman of the New Zealand Dental and Oral Health Therapists’ Association, said it commissioned Colmar Brunton to carry out an independent survey to see whether there was public support for the association advocating for New Zealand therapists to be trained and allowed to offer adult care.

The survey of 500 New Zealanders found that two-thirds (66 percent) had no objection to dental and oral therapists, with appropriate training, providing dental care for all ages.

The highest support was from the 24 to 34-year-old age group (73 percent).

Mr Naresh, who is director of allied health and technical services at Hauora Tairawhiti, and manages the health board’s dental services, said the 24 to 34-year-old age group were found in the 2009 Oral Health Survey to have “worrying levels of dental disease” and low attendance rates, with even lower attendance rates in 18-24 year-olds.

As well, 67 percent of respondents were open to dental and oral health therapists providing oral health care for the elder in residential aged-care facilities.

Mr Naresh also works part-time for a private dental practice offering dental care to adolescents.

He said a 2012 survey of older people’s oral health found that 61 percent of people in residential care had untreated decay in one or more teeth. The association believed therapists could make a valuable contribution in this area working as part of an oral healthcare team alongside dentists, dental hygienists, dental technicians and dental assistants.

The survey findings would be shared with key stakeholders, including the two training schools, the Dental Council, the Ministry of Health, district health boards and the other professional associations.

Mr Naresh believes health boards should move out of public dental health services which could be provided by primary health organisations or iwi providers.

Currently the vast majority of the dental and oral therapists in New Zealand work for district health boards providing free school dental health services up to the age of 13.

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    ​Would you like to see the Government invest in a network of sensors on the seafloor over the Hikurangi subduction zone, and a tsunami early-warning system?