TODAY |

New technology allows dentists to see patients remotely in region with high rate of tooth decay in children

A new initiative in Northland is helping specialists see patients in remote communities almost immediately.

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Inspecting teeth is made easier with a digital camera that reaches right around every molar. Source: 1 NEWS

It's a region with some of the worst dental health statistics in the country, but a digital camera trial is already slashing specialists' travel time and meaning more patients can be seen faster.

The camera reaches around every molar and allows dental surgeon Ellen Clark to inspect a patient's teeth in Kaitaia while she is in Whangārei.

She told 1 NEWS it has cut her travel time by up to 25 per cent.

"We've pockets and communities of kids all over the show and for a specialist to travel to that community for a whole day there's almost half a day of travel," Ms Clark says.

The Dental Association commends the Northland DHB's initiative saying it maximises the treatment to patients outside of large centres, but warns the new technology shouldn't be used as an excuse to cut back on staff or not to hire new staff.

The DHB says that won't happen and is hoping the initiative will improve Northland's record of having one of the highest tooth decay rates in the country for children.