Dentist Mariam Anwar from the Auckland based innovative health organisation, The Fono says she disliked her crooked teeth when she was growing up. But the skills of her family orthodontist to correct them inspired her into the profession.
“I had really crooked teeth because I was told I had a small mouth,” she recalls.
“It made me very conscious about my smile and I needed braces when I was 13 years old. The following year they were taken off and I was amazed at what a great job he did. It was then I decided I wanted to do what he did.”
After growing up on Auckland’s North Shore, Mariam studied dentistry at the University of Otago in Dunedin. After graduating, she stayed in the South Island and worked at Nelson Hospital as a house surgeon before moving to a large private practice in Timaru.
“I loved my time in the South Island, even though they gave me a lot of flak for being an Aucklander,” she says, adding it was good-natured.
“The community work was enjoyable, too. At Timaru, there are no full-time hospital services, so those of us from the private sector take turns and go on call emergencies, such as emergency pain relief, if needed.”
Mariam says it’s the type of work that made The Fono Auckland Central an appealing place to work.
“There’s a huge variety of people to treat, people of all ages, all cultures, low income, office workers,” she says.
“One of the benefits of working here compared to emergency work at a hospital is that we can establish a continuity of care. When you fix someone in a one-off emergency, chances are you’ll never see them again.
She has seen the benefits of patients who do come regularly, saying managing it through has “changed their lifestyles and general sense of wellbeing for the better”.
“We want to remove the anxiety and explain the benefits of healthy teeth so they’ll be motivated to look after them. The great thing about The Fono is that they make it affordable and accessible to more people.”
And as a proud Shore girl she now admits to loving life on the other side of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
“There are so many beautiful parks and places I wasn’t really aware of. So many people use them which motivates me to do so as well.”
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