The health of Kawerau's kids is behind the proposal for for a new outreach dental clinic for under 5's.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board (BOPDHB) Principal Dental Officer Rudi Johnson said she regularly dealt with the sad consequences of youngsters not being taught to look after their teeth properly.

"I recently removed 30 teeth from four children during a four-hour general anaesthetic session at Whakatane Hospital," she said.

"I removed 12 teeth from one child who was under three."

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Ms Johnson said the proposed clinics would not be a drop-in service so patients would need a referral from Whakatane Hospital.

A community meeting about the proposed clinics, which will be run by the BOPDHB, will take place on Wednesday May 18 at the Conference Building at 20 Islington Street in Kawerau from 10-11.30am.

Although based in Kawerau, patients from the surrounding areas of Edgecumbe, Te Teko and Murupara would also be invited to attend.

"This is all about access to services for the community. The Whakatane Hospital Paediatrics Department has been running outreach clinics in Kawerau for about three years now and our intention is to tie in with them. It might evolve into a drop-in clinic but for now you will need a referral," she said.

"The purpose of the meeting is to talk to the community face to face and hear what their needs are, to get their ideas and opinions. So we hope to see as many people there as possible."

Ms Johnson said it was an important topic and all about improving dental health for the tamariki in the Eastern Bay.

"People think that milk teeth don't matter but they do. If these teeth have started to rot there may well be an abscess present which can infect the adult teeth. Also, if there are no baby teeth present, the adult teeth can come through crooked or not properly at all."

"All of this has an effect on how children feel about themselves, self-esteem, smiling, confidence, eating properly, speaking properly, it has a big impact."