26 September, 2023

Lots to smile about in town

JAMES Cook University’s (JCU) latest outreach program, ‘Restoring the Smiles of Yarrabah Shire’, has its ambitions set on improving oral health in the shire through free dental examinations and treatment, education, and prevention.

By Isabella Guzman Gonzalez

‘We’re coming to the community to make them feel comfortable’ – Fourth year dentistry student David Bailey
‘We’re coming to the community to make them feel comfortable’ – Fourth year dentistry student David Bailey

Led by JCU’S professor and JCU Dental clinic’s director John Abbott, the first stage of the program involved dentistry students and staff visiting Yarrabah for three days earlier in September to provide free examinations, run educational workshops and health promotion.

The project was supported by grants from the Australian Dental Health Foundation and Mars Wrigley Foundation and ran in partnership with Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Aboriginal Corporation.

The second stage kicked off last week, with shuttle services from Yarrabah to the JCU Dental clinic.

“Starting on September 13, JCU will operate a monthly shuttle service from Yarrabah to the JCU Dental Clinic at the Nguma-bada campus in Smithfield,” Prof. Abbot said.

He said senior dentistry students will be providing a range of dental treatments, under the supervision of experienced clinicians.

“For all Queensland Government issued concession card holders, all basic treatments will be free of charge. JCU will be providing ongoing and regular transport to JCU Dental until May 2024,” he said.

Yarrabah resident Rosie (surname withheld), who has received treatment for her broken tooth through the JCU dentistry program, said she was grateful for the program.

“The team at JCU Dental were incredible,” she said.

“In July, they made a temporary crown to fix my smile and I got the final fix in August. I usually don’t like dentists, but I loved these guys. I am so happy. I have my smile back and I am loving it,” she said.

Fourth year dentistry student David Bailey is volunteering for the program. 

As a Mutchilba local, he said he understood the importance of battling the lack of oral health facilities and awareness in rural communities.

“Coming out to the community for three days has been really important,” he said.

“This is the first step. Rather than saying ‘you’ve got to make your way to the JCU Dental facility’, we’re coming here, where the community feel comfortable, to start building rapport and sharing the message about the services we can provide.”


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