Spreading Smiles in the Kimberley

Posted on 7th August 2019

Dr John Owen and his wife Jan, a dental nurse and dental-health educator, founded Kimberley Dental Team in August 2009, with the aim of improving oral health in the region. Ten years later, KDT remains dedicated to the oral-health cause, regularly returning to the Kimberley to assist and educate.

KDT’s most recent trip took place in May 2019, when a team of dedicated volunteers headed north for three weeks.

“We couldn’t achieve anything like the results we do without our volunteers,” Jan says. “They are essential to all aspects of the team.”

This year, KDT were joined by two final-year dental students, Lance Giudice and Zjana Allan, who received Remote Area Student Scholarships from ADAWA to assist with their remote placement.

“Lance and Zjana were involved in all aspects of the team work,” Jan explains. “They assisted our dentists, had some patients of their own with supervision, managed data, helped with all aspects of DA clinic work, and helped patients with their paperwork.”

“I learnt so much in my time in the Kimberley, to put it all into words is impossible; it was a trip unlike anything I have experienced,” Zjana recalls.

“Jan and John have done an amazing job over the years and built great relationships with the community up there. You can tell by how smoothly the whole operation runs – to be able to come into the communities up there, be accepted and have such a great turn out of patients, many who remember the team members who have been in previous years.

“The willingness and enthusiasm of patients to come to have a check-up, scale a clean or dental treatment was very encouraging.”

“I feel it is a shame that all students don’t have the opportunity to experience the trip that I had,” Lance adds. “We do some small units on Aboriginal Indigenous, Rural and Remote Oral Health at uni, however the experience of actually participating in the delivery of such an effective care model is far more valuable than sitting in a lecture hearing about statistics ever will be. The standard of care set by the team was inspirational and has motivated me to actively continue to further my knowledge and understanding.”

In total, KDT provided examinations, oral-health education and dental services for 477 people on the May trip. Additionally, these services included 215 extractions, 173 restorations, 86 scale and cleans, 41 topical fluoride treatments and 589 fissure seals. In all, this represents $157,119.20 worth of free dental care, assistance and advice. This exceeds the May 2018 trip total by $29,119.

KDT are returning for a two-week trip to the Kimberley on August 12. The first of these two weeks will include the original August 2009 KDT team returning to Halls Creek – where there are sure to be a few celebrations for 10 years of hard, rewarding work!