Isabella Ross

Now kids will not have the excuse to pass up the dentist! Mobile dentist clinics will be visiting primary schools across NSW in a bid to set students up with a lifetime of sound dental hygiene. The new initiative was announced last week by Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Minister for Health and Medical Research Brad Hazzard and Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell. The NSW Primary School Mobile Dental Program consists of 35 mobile dental clinics that will provide checks and basic dental care. Over 136,000 primary school children will benefit from the scheme, made possible by an investment of $70 million over a period of four years.

“The mobile dental program builds on existing NSW public dental services that make dental care available to all Medicare eligible children for free. This program will bring NSW Health dental practitioners into NSW primary schools, to make it easier for children to access vital services,” Ms Berejiklian announced.

Mr Hazzard said thousands of children are admitted to NSW hospitals every year with potentially preventable dental conditions and this program could reduce presentations.

“Children’s oral health can influence their general health. A healthy mouth ensures kids can eat, speak and socialise without discomfort and embarrassment, so it’s important that we treat and teach them about oral health early.”

Ms Mitchell also noted the importance of the program, saying, “Children are like sponges in primary school; so educating them on the importance of regular health check-ups when they’re young will hopefully transpire to later in life as well.”

President of the Australian Dental Association, Dr Carmelo Bonanno, noted that dental education for parents and children is a necessity, with 3 out of 4 children consuming too much sugar, therefore leading to tooth decay.

“We know that a child’s oral health is a good predictor for the future so it is critical that we embed good oral health habits at an early age. We are seeing too many children of a young age needing admission to hospital to have teeth extracted under anaesthetic so it’s really important that we get the message to parents. Watch how much sugar your kids are having and find time to get them to the dentist for a check- up regularly,” added Dr Bonanno.