Australasian Dental Practice

Sunday, 14 July, 2024

01 Jul 2009 | Australasian Dental Practice

news > Spectrum > Page 22

Free treatment targets dental care crisis

A new program known as Healthy Smiles for Life is providing free dental care for people in need across the country. Healthy Smiles for Life is a community support project sponsored by Colgate and organised in partnership with The Salvation Army, Barnardos, The Benevolent Society, and Youth Off The Streets.


The program matches volunteer dentists who donate their time and their skills free of charge with the support of Colgate to clients nominated by the partner charities. More than 220 have volunteered so far to help Australians in need.

Dental partners include the National Dental Foundation, a group of volunteer dentists who provide care for people in need, and Dental Care Network.

Originally providing free dental care for needy children under the name Bright Smiles, the successful pilot program has been extended this year to include adults.

"Healthy Smiles for Life will provide a very real overall health benefit for some of the most vulnerable people in our community," said Major Marina Randall from the Salvation Army.

"We will be able to treat some of their pressing dental problems which will have a positive impact on their general health and I hope will help prevent further health concerns".

"Addressing poor dental health can be a heavy burden, particularly for people who find themselves in financial difficulty," Major Randall said.

According to the government's National Health and Hospital Reform Commission report, there were an estimated 50,000 avoidable hospital admissions due to preventable dental conditions in 2004-05 and about 650,000 people on dental waiting lists facing an average waiting time of 27 months.

All too often it is the disadvantaged who suffer the largest share of oral disease and its flow on effects on quality of life, the report said.

Dr Barbara Shearer, Colgate Scientific Affairs Manager, said Healthy Smiles for Life gives the dental community the opportunity to improve the health and the life chances of people who have had limited access to dental care.

"The dentists who have joined Healthy Smiles for Life are making a real difference in the lives of people who are missing out on essential oral health care," Dr Shearer said.

Healthy Smiles for Life also aims to educate the whole community about the prevention of dental and gum disease through improved oral care.

"Good preventative care particularly of the gums can help people keep their teeth well into the future. It can also prevent pain and save money," Dr Shearer said.

"By brushing twice daily, flossing, rinsing with a mouthwash when needed and regularly visiting a dentist, some dental problems can be avoided," she said.

"We want to send an important message to all Australians, that brushing alone is not enough."

For further information about the program, visit www.betteroralhealth.com.au

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