East Coast Dental Service for young people starts

Dental care for East Coast Secondary students

The teeth of Tolaga Bay Area School Secondary students got the attention of the Amber Dental team last week. Pictured from left are: Dr Sujatha Mathew, Dr Nitish Surathu, students Reagan Mitchell and Miss Riva-Lee Habib, Principal Nori Parata, Victoria Lim, Sophie Goodson and Hinearihi Smith.

PHOTO credit: Tolaga Bay Area School

A dental service for young people living on the East Coast has started.

Following a formal tender process, Amber Dental has been contracted by Hauora Tairāwhiti to provide dental services to young people living, schooling and working on the East Coast.

The Amber Dental team will provide a mobile dental service from a dental van leased from Amber Foundation. The service started on Wednesday 14 April at Tolaga Bay Area School

Amber Dental Co-Owner Nitish Surathu says “We are providing dental services for year 9-13 students at the five secondary schools on the East Coast.  It is a mobile service using a van fully equipped to address adolescent primary dental health needs. A Dentist and Dental Therapists are providing onsite dental assessment, treatment and referral for further needs.”

We are now working with the five schools to organise schedules for planned visits, Dr Surathu confirmed

“Young people who are not ‘in-school’ and are under 18-years of age are also eligible to access the service.  We will be working with training providers, employers and Work and Income New Zealand to make sure young people are aware of the service.”

In New Zealand, dental care is free for children until their 18th birthday.

Hauora Tairāwhiti provides and funds free dental care for eligible children. Pre-school children (0-4 years) have their teeth checked and treated at Wahaora Community Dental Clinic in Delatour Road. Hauora Tairāwhiti dental vans visit all of the district primary and intermediate schools to check children's teeth. Tairāwhiti secondary school students receive free dental care from dental practices in Gisborne city.  However, this arrangement does not work for young people living and schooling some distance from Gisborne based dentists.

All adolescents in Tairāwhiti should have access to regular dental checks and treatment, says Hauora Tairāwhiti Planning and Funding Manager Nicola Ehau.

 “Hauora Tairāwhiti has adequate funding for East Coast adolescents to get dental care. However, providing an appropriate dental service on the Coast has always been challenging. The way dental services are provided to adolescents in New Zealand does not work on the Coast. It is difficult to attract permanent dental therapists and dentists to provide services in remote areas.”

“Tolaga Bay Area School Principal Nori Parata has long advocated for consistent and sustainable oral health services on the coast. She has championed on behalf of East Coast students, whānau and principals and is extremely happy to see it is now underway.” 

“We have listened to the community, worked with East Coast schools and the local dentists to come up with a mobile model. We are confident this will offer a long-term solution to this challenge.”

“We are delighted to welcome Amber Dental onboard and see the service underway on the Coast.”   


Back to the news

Last modified: