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

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Third-year oral health students Renee Gaw and Suzanne Estremera check out the new portable dental kit and chair with patient Piper Warlow. Picture: Contributed

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

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

Funded by the Australian Dental Health Foundation and the Mars Wrigley Foundation’s Healthier Smiles Community Service Grants, a new portable dental kit resembling a large toolbox and dental chair will be used at the Lives Lived Well residential rehabilitation center Rockhampton.

The director of the Bachelor of Oral Health course, Associate Professor Carol Tran, said the project aims to provide dental services to populations in non-traditional settings outside of the Central Queensland Dental Clinic.

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

Prof Assoc Tran said 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 better equipped to perform off-site dental services,” she said.

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

In this project, CQU works with adult clients at Lives Lived Well Rockhampton Residential Rehabilitation Centre, a program for people recovering from addiction.

This project will continue until the end of October, but it is expected to continue until 2023.

“So far, a small team of oral health practitioners and third-year students have attended the outreach clinic to perform free dental screenings with limited resources – no dental chair, suction , triplex or handpieces, said Professor Assoc Tran.

“With this new grant and equipment, we will be able to provide residents with fillings, cleanings and exams without having to leave their facilities.

“Services are provided by a cross-functional team of dentists, oral health therapists and oral health students.”

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

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