A Dunedin professor and prolific researcher will be the key note speaker at “The Big Day In”, an annual educational day for dental professionals, in Hamilton tomorrow (Friday 24 January).
It is highly likely Prof Murray Thomson will drop in the F word (fluoride) at some stage during his presentation as he has been a passionate advocate for community water fluoridation for a number of years.
But that is just one component of oral health which Prof Thomson cares about.
The Professor of Dental Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Otago is well known for his contributions in several areas of dentistry, most notably the natural history of oral conditions (and associated disparities) in both young people and older adults.
During his talk at Waiora Waikato hospital campus, he will talk about the longitudinal study of a birth cohort of children who were born at the Queen Mary Hospital, Dunedin, New Zealand (NZ) between 1 April 1972 and 31 March 1973.
The sample that formed the basis for the longitudinal study was 1037 children who were assessed within a month of their third birthdays. Periodic collections of health and developmental data (including dental examinations) have been undertaken since then, and this study uses data collected from assessments conducted at ages 15, 18, 21, 26 and 32.
In a recent article Prof Thomson said more than 5000 New Zealand children per year have to undergo dental treatment under general anaesthesia because they have too much decay. Maori and poor children are over-represented, he said.
Of equal concern is the decay rate over time among older people residing in nursing homes which is more than double that seen among those in their own homes. Among those with dementia, it is twice as high again.
The Big Day In event was started by Waikato DHB principal dental officer Dr Rob Aitken in 2008.
Past speakers have included clinical psychologist Nigel Latta who presented on “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Teeth” which focused on children’s temperament and personality, and the implications for dental staff.
Dr Aitken works hard each year to put together a programme that is relevant and interesting.
“There is much to celebrate in dentistry, with huge changes in services in the past few years, including a new oral health model and new state-of-the-art dental clinics and mobile dental units for schools.
“Having nearly 70 per cent support in the recent Hamilton City Council referendum around community water fluoridation was also a highlight while the city council’s decision to delay putting it back in was “very disappointing”, he said.
More than 200 people from around the region will attend the Big Day In.
Other speakers include Mr Simon Lou and Dr Andrew Mackie who will discuss unusual clinical situations and advise dental professionals attending this year’s Big Day In how to recognise and diagnose the unusual and the next steps in correct referral and treatrment.
An example of this is a child presenting with a gap where a tooth should be and finding out why the tooth has not come through.
“It’s around things that go bump in the night,” said Dr Aitken.
Waikato DHB chief executive Craig Climo, an ardent supporter of community water fluoridation as well, will open the event at 9am.