Community | 22 August, 2019

Initiative Sees Special Toothbrushes for Special Needs Kids

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Brushing their teeth after break time has become the norm for a group of kids at Sommerville Special School, thanks to the initiative of one special DHB dental therapist.

Heidi Reeves implemented a special dental programme for around 40 Year 9-13 students at Sommerville Special School, after seeing a need for better oral education and treatment.

The school, which is based at Edgewater College in Panmure, Auckland, caters for 260 students from five to twenty-one years of age with moderate to profound special needs.

Heidi says it was evident some of the children needed extra help, so started a special treatment plan which included the students receiving their own electric toothbrushes and being taught how to use them properly.

The brushes remain at the school and are used every day of the week.

Heidi got in touch with Lumino The Dentists about funding the electric toothbrushes, and of course, we were delighted to help.

“When Heidi called to ask for support, we agreed on the spot,” says Kerry Dunphy, Head of Marketing at Lumino The Dentists.

“Seeing the success of the programme and the pictures of the kids brushing, is really rewarding. Heidi is amazing,” she says.

Having use of an electric toothbrush, compared to a manual tooth brush means those kids with limited dexterity can still brush their teeth well, says Heidi.

She says the outcomes of the programme have been very encouraging and that students, parents and the entire school community have been behind it.

Some of the students had terrible gum disease at the beginning of the programme, swollen, bulbous red and bleeding.

But even after two months of using them, Heidi says 9 out of 10 students saw improvements in their oral health.

The school has been so supportive of this initiative, Heidi has now taken somewhat of a step back from the programme.

She remains a constant presence however, continuing to be a support person and even coming into the school on her days off.

You can read more about the special initiative on the student’s blogs, here and here.