New School Dental Service

2 February 2010

Taranaki DHB Service Planner Warwick Gilchrist is delighted that work has begun on the new four chair community dental clinic at New Plymouth Girls High School.

“This is our first new oral health facility to begin construction. A lot of people have worked very hard to get to this point. The whole of service change for the school dental service looks to ensure that we can deliver oral health services to over 20,000 Taranaki children and young people.”

“The therapists and management have done a lot of planning and seeing construction start is very satisfying,” said Mr Gilchrist.

The site will house four dental chairs helping deliver treatment to over 4000 children and young people. There are five other fixed site facilities planned within Taranaki; with the Rangiatea site construction set to begin in March. Two mobile dental units have been ordered to deliver services to Taranaki’s rural communities.

“We will have modern sunny bright facilities with ‘state of the art’ equipment. Dental Therapists will no longer be working in old, isolated areas. This will help bring our dental service into the new millennium,” he said.

Media are invited to a photo opportunity at NPGHS on Thursday February 4th at 3pm at the construction site. . Please call me if you would like to be there.


Taranaki District Health Boards (TDHB) developed a proposal to change oral health services for people aged 0 – 18.
TDHB recognises that the current services have a range of pressing issues, including;

  • Old school clinics in many areas in need of major renovation
  • Difficulty recruiting dental therapists to work in isolation in poor facilities
  • Limited oral health promotion
  • Limited enrolment and treatment of adolescents aged 13 to 18 years of age
  • Considerable inequalities between the oral health status of various population groups due to:
    • socioeconomic difference
    • poor nutrition
    • lack of access to water fluoridation
    • access to oral health services for 0-18 year olds
    • attitude to oral health

Currently there are 22 school dental clinics, one at a health centre and a mobile caravan serving 5 schools. This means that currently 65 % of Taranaki children have to travel to another school to receive dental services.

The Vision
The changes being proposed would take place progressively over three years and would involve:

  • Services becoming more community based, rather than school based with the potential to expand to adolescents and people experiencing inequalities in outcome (Māori, Pacific and low income populations)
  • Funding that allows greater flexibility of service programme design
  • A greater emphasis on preschool and early primary school years. (Oral health at age five predicts oral health at age 26)
  • Service delivery that provides a team based approach to oral health across a range of health professions and avoids clinical and professional isolation for the dental staff
  • Creating a sustainable workforce that is more representative of ethnic diversity in New Zealand.

What does this involve?

Replacing most of the 22 school dental clinics currently in the region with 6
centralised community-based clinics, supported by motorised mobile units that will
provide services to some targeted schools.

  • Six geographical zones within the Taranaki region; specific placements being:
    • New Plymouth Girls High School
    • Rangiatea
    • Manukorihi Intermediate School, Waitera
    • Inglewood School, Inglewood
    • Stratford Health Centre
    • Hawera
  • A greater focus on the zero to three-year age group
  • Increasing the workforce by increasing the number of dental staff working for the Community Oral Health Service  from 23.4  to 30.2 full-time equivalents (FTEs)
  • Increasing the health promotion early intervention team from the current 0.4
  • Increase our focus on prevention from an early age.

The changes would mean that enrolled children and adolescents are examined within 12 months at either their own school, using the mobile units or at a local community based Oral Health dental clinic.

The TDHB is particularly keen to work with you regarding impact upon whanau/families,
schools and the wider community. 

For further information

Sue Carrington
Media Adviser
Ph 021 367 789

Last updated: Monday, December 20, 2010

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