Dental Barriers Broken Down By Carpenter's Dental Mobile Clinic

Aug. 11, 2022, 9:30 p.m.

CARPENTER DENTAL MOBILE CLINIC STATIONED AT NGĀPAE HOLIDAY PARK (PHOTO: KERYN PIVAC)

 

Ngāi Takoto has partnered with the husband and wife dental team, Ian and Suzanne Carpenter of Palmerston North, to provide free dental health care for a second time. They first visited the rohe in March 2022 and were set up at Waimanoni marae. The dental duo are back again and will be stationed at Ngāpae Holiday Park for the three-week duration.   

The service was offered to several iwi during the COVID19 pandemic. Ngāi Takoto saw this opportunity as a chance to help improve oral health statistics and the well-being of their people, they were quick to accept the offer put out by the Carpenters.
 

IAN CARPENTER SPEAKS TO TE HIKU MEDIA'S HAUKĀINGA TEAM IN MARCH 2023 (PHOTO: HAUKURA JONES)

 

The Carpenters are now retired and spend their time operating their fully-equipped mobile van to provide dental services across Aotearoa. They are spending the next fortnight treating Ngāi Takoto iwi members. 

"There are a significant number of people in Te Hiku who are unable to afford dental care and this impacts on their quality of life through poor health and mouth pain. Even for those who can afford dental care, there is a considerable wait time for care in Te Hiku at present due to demand" explain the Carpenter dental duo.

Ngāi Takoto CEO, Craig Wells, saw this opportunity as a method of breaking down accessibility barriers for whānau, hapū and iwi.

"We jumped on this opportunity straight away to help combat problems that many people face such as unaffordability, low confidence, long waiting lists, overwhelmed dental services, a shortage of dental practitioners, and transport. They are going long periods of time in pain."
 

 

The Ministry of Health published the report 'Oranga Waha: Oral Health Research Priorities for Māori' which reiterates; "Good oral health is not equally available to all citizens of Aotearoa. Dental services for adults remain largely outside the system of publicly funded or subsidised health care. Preventative, restorative, or rehabilitative dental care is accessible to the affluent but often unattainable to those who are less well-off."

The report goes on to say that only one in twenty adults are accessing oral healthcare due to affordability. 
 

HOLLY COVICH AT ABC DAYCARE IN 2014 DURING AN ORAL HEALTH PROGRAM IN KAITĀIA (PHOTO: KERYN PIVAC)

 

Dental health is free for rangatahi until they turn 18 years of age through Northland District Health Board and partnering organisations like Te Hiku Hauora. Once they turn 18 years old standard fees apply and costs can reach the thousands. Jolene Rupapera spoke to Te Hiku Radio about the urgency for teenagers to make the most of this service before adulthood.

"Taking care of our teeth at a young age will set up a better foundation for adulthood. We need to think about preventative care" she said.

Te Hiku Hauora opened their dental practice in Kaitāia in 2013 as an extension to their medical centre, GP clinic, dental education and pharmacy. It was another innovative approach to breaking down barriers which included bringing in Paul Reeves Dental and Number One Dental. 

 

STATISTICS FROM WWW.CONSUMER.ORG.NZ

 

As communities collaborate and innovate to bring visions of dental affordability to life, prices continue to increase. For a routine check-up, the median cost is $74, according to the latest survey by the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA). If you get an x-ray during the check-up, the cost jumps to $98. 

Another approach is fluoridation of the town water supply which was recently ordered by Dr Ashley Bloomfield (Director-General of Health) by 2024. Scientific researcher, Mark Atkin spoke to Te Hiku Radio about his decision on opposing Bloomfield’s approach.

"It has been proven that fluoride benefits teeth, it makes them stronger by direct topical application of fluoride on the teeth not by swallowing it which can bring many health complications," said Aitken.

Tautīnei asked Ian Carpenter whether there are enough dental professionals servicing the Muriwhenua region and whether dental education could be made more accessible for those seeking out a dental profession. Carpenter replied;

"There can always be more. It is a rewarding career and hard work to study, travel, but it is really rewarding. It is worth every penny, every minute of time and tuition costs less than what it used to. Seek out the opportunities and bring it back to your communities, especially rural communitues."

It seems that there are no blanket approaches to solving dental affordability, but many organisations, businesses and rōpū continue to work hard in finding a solution, whilst trialing a combination of methods.
 

CARLOS PETRECEVICH (TAIAO) & SANDRA WAAKA (NGĀPAE HOLIDAY PARK) SUPPORT IWI MEMBERS DURING DENTAL VISITS THIS WEEK AT NGĀPAE HOLIDAY PARK (PHOTO: KERYN PIVAC)

 

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Takoto have fully funded the dental visit by purchasing the materials for the Carpenters, including a new x-ray machine.  The dental duo will provide extractions, consultations, simple composite fillings, x-rays, advice, front teeth root canal treatments, composite front teeth repair, hygiene and gum health advice. 

It takes five years of full-time study at the University of Otago to become a qualified dental surgeon. It costs approximately $16k per year in domestic tuition and over $66k for international students. One could expect newly qualified dental professionals to set their fees to balance what was paid toward their tuition. As they near a veteran career of long-standing services, such as Ian and Suzanne, more holistic approaches may be expected where they begin to find reward in other ways, such a community initiatives like this one.

With tautoko from each marae, Ngāi Takoto iwi business arms, rūnanga staff and the kaimanaaki team, barriers will be broken down to give more whānau access to dental care.


 

Related

Ōtangārei Knights Accept Declined Appeal Plea in TRL Grand Final

Waipapakauri Bombers Win 2022 Tai Tokerau Rugby League Grand Final
1 month, 2 weeks

Awa Revert To Natural Course When Put Under Pressure

Recent heavy rain across Muriwhenua had impact on man-made infrastructure and taiao
1 month, 2 weeks

Kai Sovereignty - To Grow & To Gather

Accessibility barriers to kai are still an issue face by our community. We explore kai sovereignty options
1 month, 1 week

Awa Wahine's Rua Magazine Inches Closer To Launch Day

Ataria Sharman has created a collection of creative, indigenous, beautiful writings in collaboration with many wāhine Māori
1 month, 1 week