Healthy teeth are a good reason to smile – and no-one knows this better than Bailey Parata, a Plunket Kaiawhina (Maori Health Worker). "Oral health is such an important factor in children's lifelong health and wellbeing," says Bailey.
"I love the privilege of connecting with whanau and supporting them on their parenting journey, and the opportunity my job provides to help empower them to raise their child in a positive environment."
Plunket has worked in partnership with Colgate and the New Zealand Dental Association since 2007, with a collaborative aim to promote good oral health for all New Zealand children and establish healthy oral hygiene habits from an early age.
Colgate provides a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to every new Plunket baby at their five-month visit and again at their B4 School Check.
As part of her role, Bailey also holds mat sessions with pre-schoolers at early childcare centres to talk about their nutrition and dental health.
"It's a great way to talk to children directly about their teeth and how to look after them," she says.
"It's interesting to hear what home truths come out too, like, 'My mum drinks fizzy every day' or 'I don't have to brush my teeth at home'. These are a light-hearted way to open up the conversation around teeth and dental care, and a great way for their teachers to be able to hear some of the potential extra care needed.
"Forming a connection with parents and children is the foundation of my work," says Bailey.
"And we never take for granted the privilege of visiting people in their own homes, which is critical to ensuring families want to engage in the future and continue to feel supported."
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