Hapū Māmā Oranga Niho

31 May 2017

First for New Zealand: dental care for eligible hapu māmā 

Helping pregnant mums get good dental care has been shown to improve the birth weight of babies and leads to whānau taking better care of their teeth. 

A new service, Hapu Māmā Oranga Niho, is being trialled through Tūranga Health. A first for New Zealand, hapu māmā (pregnant mums) who are experiencing significant social barriers can get free dental checks and treatment. 

The trial launched in March and since then 20 women have been through the programme based at the Waharoa Dental Clinic in Delatour Road (next to Ilminister Intermediate). 

The idea for the service came from a thesis written by Arish Naresh, Team Leader Hauora Tairāwhiti Oral Health Services. “Our research showed that if we change and empower whānau this is more likely to improve outcomes for Māori. This applied to dental health as much as anything. Trialling this service we aim to improve oral health for hapū (pregnant) mums. This has been shown to improve birth weights and instigate behaviour change after pregnancy.” 

“We are fortunate to have Dr Nitish Surathu from Amber Dental working parttime for Hauora Tairāwhiti. He is a community dentist who is working one afternoon per week doing dental checks for the mums. Initial appointments are 30 minutes and the focus is on coming up with a treatment plan. Many of these mums have not had any dental care for some time and have multiple teeth issues that need addressing.” 

To access the service Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) Midwives and other people working with hapu māmā can refer them to Tūranga Health’s Māmā and Pēpi service. Māmā and Pēpi is a wraparound service that looks at the bigger picture of health and safety for a family, says Tūranga Health's Janneen Kinney. “Kaiāwhina can help hapu māmā access a wide range of resources and support for the hapū māmā her whānau. Our Kaiawhina accompanied hapu māmā to the clinic at the launch of the service in March. All have seen significant improvement in their dental health and have all given birth to healthy pēpi (babies). 

Photo of Maternal Oral Health team

Pictured at the launch of the service are from left - David Edgar, Herewini Te Koha, Nitish Surathu, Lee Steel, Rachel Davidson, Emma Ellmers, Judy Donnelly, Abby Bright, Jenny Lynch, Arish Naresh. Front sitting - Vesna Radonich, Karen Sutcliffe, Anne Hu, Kimberley Bell, Jayne Warburton, Patricia Thompson & Lynn Marriot