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Brushing up on hygiene

JESS LEE
Last updated 05:00 07/03/2014
Cynthia Wallbridge
ROOT CAUSE: Dental hygienist Cynthia Wallbridge hopes her dental education kit will create healthy children’s smiles.

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A dental hygienist is leading a crusade to get to the root of child tooth decay.

Hundreds of toothbrushes and a dental education kit will be presented to Glen Taylor School in Glen Innes next week as part of an initiative by Glendowie resident Cynthia Wallbridge.

Ms Wallbridge approached the school after becoming more aware of the growing number of children in New Zealand with tooth decay.

"I am appalled by it. I was even more astonished to hear children in Auckland were in a situation where they are sharing a toothbrush with their whole family," she says.

Ms Wallbridge is the New Zealand Hygienist Representative to the International Federation of Dental Hygienists.

The initiative has been inspired by similar community programmes discussed at an international conference in South Africa.

"At the moment we're the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff trying to treat it rather than getting on top of it when it's a routine service," she says.

Regular brushing, going for check-ups and cutting down on sugar are all things families can do to maintain a healthy smile.

The school kit contains educational books and learning activities promoting dental hygiene and healthy eating. It will be rotated through classes in Glen Taylor School before moving on to another school in the Glen Innes area.

Ms Wallbridge hopes to roll the initiative out across 40 low decile schools in central Auckland before expanding it nationwide.

Dental decay can be stopped, she says.

"It's not inevitable and we have the power to prevent it by controlling the sugar we put in our mouths."

The initiative will be initially presented to parents and their children to ensure the message hits home.

Pak ‘n Save has donated 1000 toothbrushes and a healthy food hamper, while Oral B has provided an electric toothbrush as a prize for the pilot programme.

Penrose's Rockfield Dental Centre has sponsored the education kits.

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- East And Bays Courier

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