Solving teething problems

Dr Pip Brickell, Dentist at Auckland based innovative health organisation, The Fono Central in Auckland’s Wyndham St, is thankful she wasn’t part of her mother’s generation when it came to dealing with troublesome teeth.


“When my mother had problems, they just pulled them all out because it was seen as the easiest, most common and affordable way of dealing with it,” says Pip.

“But it came with consequences. I’m thankful that these days we know it’s better for patients to keep their own healthy teeth for as long as they can.”

Growing up in the Hawke’s Bay, Pip wasn’t sure what she wanted to do upon leaving school. She thought a health-science paper would buy her some time. Indeed it did until she chose dentistry.

“It was in the health sector, but it took only five years to get qualified with a BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) and I didn’t really want to do medicine. I was keen to get into dentistry.”

Pip studied at the University of Otago in Dunedin. She loved the much-renowned scarfie lifestyle, although looking back she admits some of the accommodation she lived in she wouldn’t dream of entering now.

Not that Pip would need to. Having graduated and spent a year working at the local Dunedin Hospital, she moved north to the capital to work at a community clinic in Porirua. She describes the experience as an “eye-opener”.

“I saw levels of poverty that I had never experienced growing up in the Hawke’s Bay or even in Dunedin,” she recalls.

By this stage Pip was keen to gain some work experience overseas. She managed to secure a job in a small country town in the state of Victoria. The initial term was three months, but Pip enjoyed it so much she stayed for more than a year and half. She then moved to Melbourne where she worked in various private practices.

Melbourne was also where she met her husband-to-be, an aircraft engineer based at Melbourne Airport. While they loved the city’s vibrancy, culture, restaurants and cafes, they both wanted to come back to New Zealand.

They did so in mid-2015 and now live in Blockhouse Bay. They love Auckland’s greenery and harbours and Pip says the diversity of patients who come to its Wyndham St clinic provides her plenty of motivation to meet their needs.

“Having worked in a number of private practices, we’re striving to provide a level of service that will attract patients to come regularly to maintain good oral health, rather than only coming in an emergency,” she says.

“It’s better for them in the long run.”

About The Fono

The Fono provides affordable services including medical, dental, pharmacy, health promotion, social services, education and Whanau Ora. They deliver a combination of these services across five locations. With combined experience of five separate clinics stretching over 80 years, The Fono aims to be a leader in health for the people who need it the most, fostering well, safe, vibrant and informed communities.

Click here to view The Fono’s website