Rotorua parents are being urged to make use of a new drop-in dental clinic over the school holidays.

The clinic will run at Western Heights Health Centre on Brookland Rd over the upcoming school holidays.

School holiday clinics were run in 2011 and 2013 but were generally by appointment, so this is the first truly drop-in clinic in the school break.

The health board is urging the parents of preschoolers and children to use the clinic, which is available Monday to Friday for both weeks of the school holidays.


Lakes DHB community oral health service manager Juan Restrepo said he was excited to offer another option for parents wanting their children to be seen by the dental therapists during the school holidays.

All parents were welcome to drop-in with their preschoolers and children to the free service which will be operated out of a mobile dental van with two dental therapists on site.

Mr Restrepo said it was important for toddlers to enrol with the community oral heath service and have their first visit to the dental therapist by the time they were 1.

He said the focus was to prevent dental disease from an early age and a big part of prevention was showing parents and caregivers how to look after their pre-schoolers and children's teeth.

Dental clinics at Selwyn Primary School and Rotorua Intermediate School will also be open for appointments over the school holidays. People need to ring to book those appointments.

Meanwhile, the health board's communication officer Sue Wilkie said the board was still investigating how it could fund a special $300,000 dental van to focus on improving oral health in pre-schoolers.

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The van would target under-5s which was an area which was difficult to capture. The aim of the self-drive van would see increased use and access for preschoolers at kohanga reo, early childhood centres and other community locations as opposed to the two existing community dental vans which were used for treatments and remained at a site for long periods.

Miss Wilkie said the health board's money was prioritised into spending on delivery of health services and face-to-face care, rather than investing in big capital items like the van.

"Our money is prioritised into spending on delivery of health services and face- to-face care rather than investing in big capital items like this. However, we know this is a priority and such an item would enable the dental service to get around many more children and deliver preventative oral health care."

Fact file:

* What: Free drop-in dental clinic

* When: Monday, April 18 to Friday April, 29

* Where: Western Heights Health Centre

* What time: Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm

* Other options: Phone Selwyn Primary School (07) 348 2650 or Rotorua Intermediate School (07) 347 1495 for appointments over the holidays.