Grant brings smiles to CQU’s oral health students and patients

Third year Oral Health students Renee Gaw and Suzanne Estremera check out the new portable dental kit and chair with patient Piper Warlow. Photo: Contributed

A CQUniversity cash grant has brought smiles of delight to oral health students and patients.

The students will be better able to meet the dental needs of “at risk” populations in non-traditional settings thanks to a new $11,000 mobile dental program.

Funded through the Australian Dental Health Foundation and Mars Wrigley Foundation’s Healthier Smiles Community Service Grants, a new portable dental kit resembling a large tackle-box and dental chair will be used in the Lives Lived Well Rockhampton Residential Rehabilitation Centre.

The Bachelor of Oral Health course head, Associate Professor Carol Tran, said the project aimed to deliver dental services to populations in non-traditional settings outside the dental clinic in Central Queensland.

“There are lot of barriers which prevent patients from accessing dental services including the inability to travel to services,” she said.

Assoc Prof Tran said the barriers included long waiting lists in the public dental service, lack of affordability, and dental care not being a priority.

“With CQU staff and students now having this kit, we are more equipped to conduct dental services off-site,” she said.

Lightweight at just 8.6kg, the all-in-one dental kit can be taken just about anywhere, along with a few other supplies.

As part of this project, CQU is working with adult clients of the Lives Lived Well Rockhampton Residential Rehabilitation Centre, a program for people recovering from addiction.

This project will run until the end of October, however there are plans for it to continue into 2023.

“Up until now, a small team of oral health practitioners and third year students have attended the outreach clinic to complete free dental screenings with limited resources – no dental chair, suction, triplex or handpieces, Assoc Prof Tran said.

“With this new grant and equipment, we will be able to offer residents fillings, cleans and check-ups without the need for the residents to leave their facilities.

“The services are provided by a cross functional team consisting of dentists, oral health therapists and student oral health therapists.”

She said 20 students in their final year of the Bachelor of Oral Health were participating in the program to improve oral health services to vulnerable populations.

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