17 Oct 2015

Out of the pram and into the chair

9:31 am on 17 October 2015

Auckland health authorities want to get all babies into the dental chair before they even have a full set of teeth.

baby crying

Photo: AFP / MENDIL / BSIP

The Auckland and Waitamata District Health boards are aiming for every baby to see a dental nurse before their first birthday.

At the moment, the boards routinely make appointments for children in their first year but only six percent actually see a dental nurse - many of them simply don't turn up

The boards want to get in touch with parents early to get children into good habits that can prevent problems later.

But New Zealand Dental Association chief executive David Crum said while it was a noble ideal, resources were limited and that meant a more targeted approach might be better.

"There'll be a large proportion of those babies, those families, that don't need to see a dental therapist within that time and yet there'll be a number of other families that need that intervention early and consistently until the child reached the age of seeing a dentist."

At 12 months, most children have about eight teeth although some still have none.

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