20 Sep 2013

Maori workers go out of their way to look after children's teeth

5:48 am on 20 September 2013

Maori kaimahi hauora (health workers) in Te Tai Tokerau are using their own time to take tamariki to the dentist.

Northland District Health Board (DHB) says a lack of money means many whanau don't do enough to ensure their children look after their teeth.

The DHB's oral health promotions advisor, Shareen Ali, is praising iwi teams for going out of their way to provide care.

She says some parents can't afford the petrol to drive to dental clinics.

Ms Ali says while there are dental vans travelling the region, Maori health workers do more than their job requires, by picking up children in their own cars and taking them to dental clinics.

She says statistics from last year show 76% of Maori five-year-olds in Northland had tooth decay, compared to 65% of all five-year-olds in the region.

Ms Ali says any whanau needing help with dental treatment should call 0800 MY TEETH.