Community | 02 May, 2024

Lumino Gore Team Provide Free Dental Care in Waharoa

Last week Lumino Gore dentist, Dr Manu Walker and her Dental Assistant Ata, travelled to the small town of Waharoa to give back to the community.

Manu and Ata volunteered their time to treat 31 medically compromised patients over 65 for free..The volunteer dental work was made possible with the generous support of a grant from The Clare Foundation. The treatment mainly consisted of extractions, restorations, and periodontal treatment. 

We were proud to support this worthy cause by donating the use of our mobile unit, transport and materials. 

Manu and Atu spent 5 days on the bus providing treatment. They arrived to a pōwhiri and the bus was blessed on the Friday ahead of treatment week.

This initiative held multiple significance for Manu personally as it provided an opportunity for her to return home to whaanau. It also allowed Manu and her team to identify barriers to care in the region, such as access and cost, factors hindering regular engagement with established practices like Te Whatu Ora and it enabled them to explore sustainable long-term care solutions.

Due to the substantial need for dental care, treatment was prioritised for over 65-year-old, medically compromised patients. Our goal was to provide comprehensive appointments, offer oral hygiene education, and alleviate dental pain and discomfort for those who may otherwise go without treatment. We were also able to engage with the community to raise awareness about oral health and the importance of regular dental check-ups.

Te Hauora o Ngaati Hauaa Trust, based in Waharoa, Waikato, played a crucial role in facilitating patients for the week and handling administrative tasks, including enrolment into our services and completion of surveys and forms.

Manu said roughly two thirds of the patients they saw hadn’t visited the dentist for many years and most have them had no idea how bad their oral health was, they’d just become accustomed to it.

"It was disheartening to witness the prevalence of periodontal disease and long-term pain in many patients, despite the availability of services within driving distance."

“About one-third of patients had visited the dentist in the past four years but for some of them it had been 40 years since they’ve seen a dentist."