At June 2017, Ministry of Health data showed that dental conditions were one of the top five ambulatory sensitive (avoidable) hospital admissions (ASH admissions) across all our DHB regions.
With this alarming information in hand, Pinnacle MHN swiftly began working with practices in an effort to detect dental issues earlier for the benefit of children and whanau, and to minimise the burden on secondary care.
"We decided to proactively implement Lift the Lip training across our network, with input from DHBs. The emphasis was on nurses starting to check for dental decay early-on, at an infant's three-month immunisation visit," general manager of practice support and development, Bevan Bayne, said.
Bevan said Lift the Lip, a well-known technique for screening young children's teeth for dental caries, has always been part of B4 School Check for 4-year-olds, however at this age "it's often too late, dental caries are already there."
"So, starting in November we engaged the network in Lift the Lip training sessions spanning all DHB regions in the network. We have also made it part of practices' Pinnacle MHN quality goals to attend," Bevan said
The training was intended for practice nurses and was run predominantly by DHB community oral health services. "It covered, among other things, what lift the lip is and when to refer, and emphasised the recommendation to start at three month childhood immunisation," Bevan said.
Six trainings sessions have been held in total, with over 100 practice nurses from across the network attending. "We are pleased with the way the network engaged with these Lift the Lip trainings."
"Together, we're helping to ensure parents and caregivers are receiving positive dental hygiene messaging prior to their babies' teeth erupting from the gums. We're also helping to catch dental issues early on and referring children to dental health if need-be."
Bevan said the training has also opened opportunities for practices across the network to engage more comprehensively with dental services.
"Our practices are learning more about those services, and vice versa. Such relationship building benefits the health industry and patients alike.
Lift the Lip is the first of three network-wide trainings Pinnacle MHN is doing via its 2017/2018 quality plan. The other two are health literacy and self-management training, and will start in February and March 2018 respectively.
Engaged Network lead: Bevan Bayne, firstname.lastname@example.org