Strong ties to Mangawhai for new dentist
BY GAEL MCCONACHY
As long as any of our family can remember Ellen (aka Dossie) has wanted to be a dentist. Even when, at the age of ten, to correct her teeth she wore a night brace with head gear in the style of Lisa Simpson of ‘The Simpsons.’ This was followed by full braces until the age of thirteen. Rather than daunt her in any way it consolidated her ambition to become a dentist. Attending Otago University, she graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery with Credit.
Since 2009 she has been employed by the Northland District Health Board as the first dental house officer. For the past four years she has been the clinical director of Oral Health based at Whangarei Hospital.
In 2013-2014 Ellen won the New Zealand Dental Association Award for Outstanding Young Dentist.
Her love of dentistry and an abiding interest in the dental health of the children in the Far North resulted in winning a Ministry Of Health grant which gave her the funding to conduct a supervised toothbrushing programme in Kaitaia Intermediate. Over the course of 2016 the teeth of children in the brushing programme improved significantly, enough to lead to multiple supervised brushing programmes throughout New Zealand. This research became the basis of her Masters degree. In 2017 she graduated with a Master of Community Dentistry with Distinction and she is now a registered specialist.
With the retirement of our local dentist, Warren Bell, the opportunity arose for Ellen to bring her skills to Mangawhai. Married with a young family of three children, Ellen is excited about the services to the community the clinic will supply. Ellen and her family have strong ties to Mangawhai surf life saving, where she has been an active volunteer since 1999, winning an Outstanding Contribution award in 2012-2013.
In order for Ellen to continue her hospital an orthopantomogram has been installed for difficult extractions and impacted wisdom teeth. Sedation is available for patients where necessary.
New hygienist Kimberley Dentston will be available for a basic $99 scale and polish on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Ellen is introducing an examination fee of $75. The clinic will also be opening for free dental services for 13–17 year olds.
Ellen will work part time for the District Health Board one day a week from Mangawhai. She will see oncology and hospital patient referrals as well as some children requiring specialist referral, making it easier for patients south of Whangarei to access services.
I asked her how she enjoyed her job. “I love it,” was her reply.
Ellen will take over the practice on February 14.
Ellen Clark takes over the local dental practice from retiring Warren Bell. (PHOTO/Gael McConachy)