Lakes District Health Board is looking at buying a $300,000 special dental van to focus on improving oral health in pre-schoolers.
The health board will today consider whether to explore fundraising options to purchase the pre-school specific self-drive dental van.
According to a report by maternal, child and youth health portfolio manager Pip King, to be presented to the board at today's meeting, the van would target under-5s which is an area that's difficult to capture at the moment.
The report said 5-year-olds in the Lakes area had a higher rate of decayed, missing or filled teeth compared with the national average. The statistics for Maori children in the area were even worse.
Part of the problem was put down to low pre-school enrolment and completion rates and poor attendance rates at community oral health services.
In the report Ms King said in the under-5 age group early intervention, prevention and education were the keys to improving oral health.
She said the existing service model, because of its design and resourcing, was "limited in its ability to capture this population group".
The existing community dental vans operated by Tipu Ora and Lakes District Health Board were used for treatments and remained at a site for long periods, while the self-drive van would likely see increased use and access for preschoolers at kohanga reo, early childhood centres and other community locations.
Pre-school oral health has been identified as a key priority area and the van would target high-need areas allowing for early intervention and health promotion.
Ms King said by purchasing the van it was hoped that more children would be enrolled in the dental service, fewer pre-schoolers would have dental decay, and they would see less of the associated illnesses.
The van is expected to cost about $300,000 and the board was expected to look at fundraising options.
"Poor oral health among Lakes children remains a significant concern. Alternative strategies to improve service access and engagement need to be explored, with a particular focus on the high needs."