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Healthy smiles the future for oral health winners

Maungatapu Preschool are this year’s winners of the BOPDHB World Oral Health Day Challenge.

Beaming, healthy smiles are the future for an early childhood centre in the Western Bay after it triumphed in an annual oral health challenge.

ECCs across the Western Bay were invited to take part in the annual World Oral Health Day Challenge, organised by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board Oral Health Promotion team. Maungatapu Preschool has been announced as this year’s winner.

The top three placings were Maungatapu Preschool, St Mary’s Tahatai Centre, Papamoa and Gate Pa Preschool and Childcare Centre.

Maungatapu Preschool teacher Margie Taylor was instrumental in the activities run during the challenge. She said taking part had generated plenty of creativity.

“It’s really cool to win it,” says Margie.

“The teachers, parents and children got onboard and it just gained momentum. We’ve created a dental surgery at the centre, where the children play either the dentist or the patient. We didn’t expect to do those sorts of things when we started but the ideas just kept coming.”

There were even positives which came out of the COVID-19 lockdown earlier this year.

“During lockdown we asked parents to take photos of their children cleaning their teeth and we started a board of those,” says Margie.

“It was great because it created a strong connection with the parents and, when the kids came back, they just loved looking at the pictures of themselves.”

Other activities included toothbrush songs and games, creating tooth-related models, making healthy kebabs, measuring sugar content in lunches, growing vegetables, running a worm farm and composting.

“One of the other real benefits has been the strong communication between teachers and Jenny Lloyd in our kitchen, who is always right behind offering healthy options,” says Margie.

The pre-school has around 45-50 children on its roll, from five to six months right through to starting school.

“These things are generally successful because they have the background support, like we did with the Oral Health team,” added Margie.

BOPDHB oral health promoter Nicole D’cruz thanked all those who had taken part.

“I want to say a big thank you to all the early childhood centres that participated in this year’s Oral Health Challenge,” says Nicole.

“Many centres had to go through a lot of changes to adapt to COVID-19 including the lockdown, so it was much appreciated that centres took the time to participate in the challenge.

“Congratulations to Maungatapu Preschool who are this year’s winners. The centre has been exceptional to work with and I love the motivation they had to promote good oral health through the activities the staff did with the children to promote positive behaviour changes, staff attending our oral health professional development workshop and getting the parents involved as well. Ka pai te mahi.”

The theme for World Oral Health Day 2020 was: ‘Say Ahh: Unite for Mouth Health’. The significance of this theme was that we eat, speak and smile using our mouth, and it is a gateway to our body. Therefore, it’s imperative to look after oral health, whatever our age.

Prizes for the winners included a big box of fruit and vegetables, a big tooth model, toothbrushes, toothpaste, certificates and laminated activities books.

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