Brush­ing up on hy­giene

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

A den­tal hy­gien­ist is leading a cru­sade to get to the root of child tooth de­cay.

Hun­dreds of tooth­brushes and a den­tal ed­u­ca­tion kit will be pre­sented to Glen Tay­lor School in Glen Innes next week as part of an ini­tia­tive by Glen­dowie res­i­dent Cyn­thia Wall­bridge.

Ms Wall­bridge ap­proached the school af­ter be­com­ing more aware of the grow­ing num­ber of chil­dren in New Zealand with tooth de­cay.

‘‘I am ap­palled by it. I was even more as­ton­ished to hear chil­dren in Auck­land were in a sit­u­a­tion where they are shar­ing a tooth­brush with their whole fam- ily,’’ she says. Ms Wall­bridge is the New Zealand Hy­gien­ist Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Den­tal Hy­gien­ists. The ini­tia­tive has been in­spired by sim­i­lar com­mu­nity pro­grammes dis­cussed at an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence in South Africa.

‘‘At the mo­ment we’re the am­bu­lance at the bot­tom of the cliff try­ing to treat it rather than get­ting on top of it when it’s a rou­tine ser- vice,’’ she says. Reg­u­lar brush­ing, go­ing for check­ups and cut­ting down on su­gar are all things fam­i­lies can do to main­tain a healthy smile. The school kit con­tains ed­u­ca­tional books and learn­ing ac­tiv­i­ties pro­mot­ing den­tal hy­giene and healthy eat­ing. It will be ro­tated through classes in Glen Tay­lor School be­fore mov­ing on to an­other school in the Glen Innes area.

Ms Wall­bridge hopes to roll the ini­tia­tive out across 40 low decile schools in cen­tral Auck­land be­fore ex­pand­ing it na­tion­wide.

Den­tal de­cay stopped, she says.

‘‘It’s not in­evitable and we have the power to pre­vent it by con­trol­ling the su­gar we put in our mouths.’’

The ini­tia­tive will be ini­tially pre­sented to par­ents and their chil­dren to en­sure the mes­sage hits home.

Pak ‘ n Save has do­nated 1000 tooth­brushes and a healthy food ham­per, while Oral B has pro­vided an elec­tric tooth­brush as a prize for the pi­lot pro­gramme.

Pen­rose’s Rock­field Den­tal Cen­tre has spon­sored the ed­u­ca­tion kits.

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Root cause: Den­tal hy­gien­ist Cyn­thia Wall­bridge hopes her den­tal ed­u­ca­tion kit will cre­ate healthy chil­dren’s smiles.

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