New rural dental clinic to help reduce travel time for patients

Amy Lee and her husband Joseph Baek of The Dentist on Kelvin, are opening a dental clinic in Winton, to help those who live in rural towns have better access to oral care and shorter commute times.

Robyn Edie/Stuff

Amy Lee and her husband Joseph Baek of The Dentist on Kelvin, are opening a dental clinic in Winton, to help those who live in rural towns have better access to oral care and shorter commute times.

A new dental clinic is set to open in a rural Southland town, to help patients save time on the commute to Invercargill.

Since December 2020, general dentistry and specialist prosthodonist Amy Lee and her husband, practice manager Joseph Baek have been running The Dentist on Kelvin.

The couple noticed that a chunk of its clientele were travelling from rural towns of Winton, Lumsden and Dipton.

“We wanted to serve the broader community,” Baek said.

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“The initial concern was that will we be able to get dentists because as you know Southland is hard to get any health professional,” he said.

Finally, it was decided that we would get the practice up and running and then try to fill it in with staff, instead of the other way around, Baek said. It will have a soft-opening in September and be open four days a week.

However, Winton Dental will be fully open from January 2023, as a permanent dentist for the practice had been hired and would be moving down south for it next year.

In the meanwhile, some members of The Dentist on Kelvin will travel to Winton four days a week to help run the clinic.

Lee who is a Southlander had her training in Dunedin before moving to Brisbane to work for eight years.

She said she noticed that there was a lack of education when it came to oral healthcare here in Southland, compared to her time in Australia.

“I would say in this region a lot of shortage of oral healthcare and … some kids the age group between 13 and 18 don’t even get a yearly check-up,” she said.

Last week, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield ordered 14 local authorities to add fluoride to some or all of their water supplies.

The Invercargill water supply was already fluoridated, however not Southland and Gore district councils; and the councils were left off a list of regions ordered to get their water supplies fluoridated.

“It’s a bit hard to comment on fluoridation … but it’s a good population level preventative scheme.

“I’m definitely for fluoridation, but there are other health concerns … but definitely benefits for grown children,” Lee said.

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