Dental Rescue Day a huge success

Posted on 29th July 2019

Dental and oral-health students from UWA and Curtin respectively joined forces to hold a Dental Rescue Day recently, in order to provide free dental treatment for up to 60 patients-in-need.

The Oral Health Centre of WA opened its doors on July 25 for a Dental Rescue Day. Dental and oral-health students from the University of Western Australia and Curtin University cane together to treat around 60 patients, free of charge, for one day, at OHCWA, in the grounds of UWA.

“It was amazing to see the cooperation between students, staff and patients,” volunteer dentist Dr Lida Sayadelmi says. “A lot of work has been done today – including extractions, fillings, cleaning and planning for dentures.”

Under supervision, the students provided essential dental care to patients referred to the Australian Dental Health Foundation from charity organisations.

“The Australian Dental Health Foundation accepts referrals to the volunteer dental programmes from clients who are supported by a registered charity or not-for-profit organisation,” Andrea Paterson, WA state coordinator of the Australian Dental Health Foundation, says.

“They must be in genuine need and have a desire to receive help but be unable to access private or public dental services. My role as the WA ADHF state coordinator is to liaise with the referring organisations to facilitate their eligible clients with a volunteer to receive pro-bono dental treatment.”

Andrea says clients may be supported by one of the following programmes:

  • Near homeless or homeless support/accommodation services
  • Support services for those from low socio-economic areas/circumstances
  • Drug or alcohol rehabilitation
  • Long-term injury or illness support services
  • Domestic and family violence support/accommodation services

“This was an incredible opportunity for so many disadvantaged in our community to receive the oral care that they needed, resulting in improvement of their dental health, speech, function, and self-esteem,” she adds.

Not only was the Dental Rescue Day beneficial for the patients, it provided valuable experience to the students involved. “It was lovely to see the response from the dental community in response to such a great cause,” student dentist Emma Turner adds.

Dr Tracey Gold, a dentist working as a Teaching Focused Clinical Professional with Curtin University Oral Health Therapy, said the students were positive and enthusiastic throughout the day. “It was a great atmosphere. Everyone embraced the opportunity.

“We are hoping to do something similar once a semester,” she continues. “The staff in the Curtin Oral Health Therapy course are always looking for new ways to engage our students with the wider community, and broaden their student experience.

“A Dental Rescue Day does this perfectly, whilst giving the students an opportunity to be introduced to the important notion of volunteering. The realisation that there are numerous people in our society today who for different reasons cannot or have not accessed dental care regularly is important for them to understand, as future dental care providers.

“As soon as this idea was born, I approached Mario Ferrari [Doctor of Dental Medicine Coordinator at UWA Dental School/Oral Health Centre of Western Australia] in the hope of involving dental students as well as our oral health therapy students, in order to ensure that the patients would have available to them the full scope of dental treatments on the day.

“He was immediately keen and supportive, recognising the benefit to all of this opportunity for all of our students to deliver quality dental care to these patients by working in a collaborative team effort.”

Dr Ferrari adds: “From the beginning, we welcomed the idea of being a part of the Dental Rescue Day, because volunteering is one of the many things that we look for in a prospective student, so it is only fair that, once they become dental students, they have the chance to continue to do that in the school context.

“We want to make dental treatment available to as many people as possible and our students are keen to treat as many patients as possible. The UWA Dental School is proud of providing quality dental services for the community with the most advanced technology available.

“The Dental Rescue initiative gives us the chance to reach out to people who would otherwise not have access to treatment and, as a public health specialist, this is something that is very important to me.”