Nine out of ten Whanganui children with dental decay in their baby teeth are opting for a new treatment over a traditional filling.

Whanganui dental therapist, Megan Thiele, has been taking part in a “ground-breaking” study testing a technique that doesn’t drill out the decay but instead places a metal cap over the tooth.

Ms Thiele said the new method means no anaesthetics, it takes ten minutes instead of half an hour and it’s minimal pain for the child and doesn’t have to be redone.

“Often fillings in baby teeth fall out within 18 months and have to be redone but with the crown, which is what we call the metal cap, it stays in there until the baby tooth falls out.”

University of Otago professor Lyndie Foster Page brought the treatment, named Hall Technique, to Whanganui in December 2015 to run a three-year trial which involved 350 local children aged 3 to 8.

The region was the first place in New Zealand to trial the new method, although Ms Foster Page said some DHBs were already using the treatment and relying on international studies.

Of the children participating in the study, half are using traditional methods of treatment and the other half are using Hall Technique.

But Ms Thiele said all Whanganui children with dental decay in their teeth are being offered the new treatment even if they didn’t sign up to the study.

“The kids think it’s a bit of bling….we say to them we can do the crown or we can pop your tooth to sleep and do a filling and nine times out of ten they pick the crown because they know it’s quick and permanent.”

“As well as the positive response from children, 99 per cent of parents have been really accepting because they want what we want – minimal pain.”

In a Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) committee meeting last month alarming statistics pointed to the number of pre-schoolers needing anaesthetic for their teeth.

In the Whanganui region alone, 43.1 per cent of five-year-olds have dental decay compared with 37 per cent in Taranaki.

Whanganui has a remarkable inequality in dental health between Maori (65.3 per cent with decay) Pacific (67.5 per cent with decay) and Other (31.5 per cent with decay).

In the committee meeting Whanganui Regional Health Network (WRHN) chief executive, Judith MacDonald, said more needed to be done to reduce these rates.

“It is not ok that our pre-schoolers are needing anaesthetics for their teeth,” Ms MacDonald said.

While 90 per cent of children were opting for the new treatment WDHB clinical manager of oral health, Barb Dewson, said there were some children who were beyond repair.

“If you start off with three abscessing teeth and other decays and you are a three or four years old, sticking you in the dentist chair is no fun and if you’re a mum watching that it’s not fun either so to deal with that those children often have to be put them to sleep,” Ms Dewson said.

Source: Wanganui Chronicle

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