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Big Day In highlights new horizons in dental health care

It was a glimpse into the new future of dentistry which is moving away from conventional materials and techniques of treating kids tooth decay.

New bioactive and glass ionomer cement were hot topics at Waikato DHB’s 9th annual Big Day In, a continuing professional development conference held at the University of Waikato.

L-R Tim Pevreal, Diane Pevreal, Larry Clark, Professor Ian Meyers

Both products are revolutionising the way tooth decay is being treated globally and over 300 dental therapists, assistants and dentists got a first-hand review of the science and techniques from keynote speakers Professor Ian Meyers, Queensland University, and Larry Clarke, Pulpdent USA.

Bioactive and glass ionomer cement will prevent the ongoing decay process and provide a more comfortable experience for children, says Rob Aitken Waikato DHB’s principle dental officer.

“Materials are tooth coloured and when the decay is removed the material is placed into the cavity to chemically bond with the tooth. This is a whole new world when compared with dentistry’s pioneering amalgam (silver) fillings that will be phased out completely by 2018.

“Managing kids decay has always posed significant challenges to paediatric dental operations, but these new processes will be gentler on kids with less time spent in the clinic and it will also give more positive results by preventing decay returning. Small amounts of minerals such as calcium and phosphate are released overtime helping to repair the damage caused by bacteria and seal the cavity. Greater strength and longevity of the filling materials is also a big bonus, reducing the need for replacement.”

Waikato DHB’s community oral health manager Diane Pevreal says she’s excited about the innovations in dental care but states: “Saving kids from getting decay in the first instance still remains our highest priority.”

While most dental decay is preventable the Waikato DHB statistics for 2015 showed that decay remains a problem for many youngsters.

At five years of age over 40 per cent of children had already experienced decay. For 2015, over 1,000 youngsters had extensive decay that required teeth removed under general anaesthetic at hospital.

The Big Day In had staff attend from six DHB’s and private practices, with an addition of Nelson Marlborough, Southland, and Taranaki DHBs’ video conferencing in.

“Our Waikids logo with a graphic of ‘Balloons over Waikato’ was inspirational in us taking an aerial view of the industry and we started to think about the safety record of the airline industry, and its similarity to health – high stakes, run by and for people and with much in the way of technology and technological advancements – so it was a great to have an airline pilot Tim Pevreal present on the fundamentals of human interaction in aviation” said Diane.

More about the presenters

Professor Ian Meyers, who works in general dental practice in Brisbane and has honorary professional positions with The University of Queensland School of Dentistry, and James Cooks University School of Medicine and Dentistry. His presentation was on understanding the science of Glass Ionomer Cement (GIC), a dental restorative material used for dental fillings and cements.

Larry Clark, has lectured extensively around the world on dental materials and has many published international articles. His presentation was on various techniques such as moving from passive to active materials and having a bioactive mind-set; treating the tooth as a living substance.

Tim Pevreal, second officer on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet for Air NZ, flying international flights. Tim spent 14 years in the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a pilot flying the Boeing 757.  In this role he rose to captain and training officer and flew royalty, dignitaries and troops around the world His presentation was on the fundamentals of human interaction in aviation, and how getting it right (or wrong) affects both safety and performance. Much of this related well to health care with Tim advocating for continuing to build and maintain personal skills, standardisation, standard operating procedures, checklists and following an incident process to learn and prevent catastrophic events.

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