David Banks giving a talk on the importance of looking after your teeth to the children of the Masterton West Kindergarten. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

On a mission to help kids’ smiles

Eli Hill

David Banks is on a mission to help children’s smiles.

A dentist with 43 years’ experience, Banks has offered free talks to primary schools and preschools to help children’s dental hygiene.

“I’ve been working for Mobile Surgical Services, which is the mobile operating theatre that they truck around the country, just doing the kids’ teeth and general anaesthetic.

“We started it around 12 years ago and my initial thought about the process was – great we’ll catch up the backlog and then it’ll just be a routine caseload.”

But Banks said the caseloads had only grown.

“I think now over those 12 years, we’ve anesthetised over a thousand kids in Featherston who’ve had extractions and fillings.”

Banks said that every time he saw a parent, he pleaded with them to do something about their children’s dental hygiene.

“But it doesn’t seem to sink in. So, I thought, all right let’s reverse the equation.

“Let’s let the kid nag the mum to at least get a toothbrush in there – to at least do something.

“I think you’ve got to talk to the young ones because the older ones have already made up their mind and haven’t changed it.”

He began by giving a talk at the Scuola Montessori Masterton preschool with fellow dentist Trish Leabourne.

“And my grandson happens to be going to kindergarten at Masterton West Kindergarten and he said, ‘How come Pop doesn’t come and talk to us?’, so I went and talked to them.

“And then I thought it would be a good idea if this got out and we went around to all the preschools and even the young ones of school age – the five- to seven-year-olds – the idea being to get kids to go home and plead ‘I need a toothbrush.”

So, Banks is inviting preschools, kindergartens, and primary schools to get in touch with him, and he will come out and speak to the children about dental hygiene.

“The modern diet is no match for teeth unless they are cleaned.”

Brushing teeth is about the routine.

“If you want any preventive health routine to work it has to be established in a daily routine.

“Whether it’s you choosing to go for a run or doing laps in a swimming pool.

‘It’s sad because if you instil good dental routines into a kid you save them thousands of dollars over their lifetime.”

Teeth problems can be prevented through restricting sugar intake and routinely using an electric toothbrush on children’s teeth.

“If I do give this talk to 30 or 40 preschoolers, maybe two or three will pick up this talk – I’m going to be realistic and say I’m not going to change the whole deal, but I might help one or two along the way.

“It’s something I would like to see as a preventive measure in the community.”

  • Schools and preschools wanting to get in touch with Banks should call True Dentistry in Carterton on 06 379 8799.