Aboriginal communities in western Sydney are set to smile, thanks to a grant from The Australian Dental Health Foundation and Mars Wrigley Foundation.
The Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) Paediatric Oral Health Department, in collaboration with the WSLHD Aboriginal Health Hub, has been awarded the 2021 Healthier Smiles Community Grant worth $8,200 in order to increase the delivery oral health care to these at-risk populations.
The program will target children aged 0-5 years old and will include oral care services, products and educational resources for families visiting the Aboriginal Health Hub and outreach programs.
WSLHD Dental officer Dr Michelle McNab said the program will help assist a population where dental and oral health issues are extremely common.
“The Aboriginal community, particularly those under five years of age, have much higher rates of tooth decay and oral hygiene deficiencies compared to other demographics,” Michelle said.
“The grant funding will allow us to fund these oral health resources for the 12 months, in hand, helping improve the oral health of the Aboriginal community.”
As well as providing oral care, the grant will also assist in funding training for health care staff in the identification of clients with oral care risks and referral pathways to the public dental clinics.
Michelle will be leading this project alongside Dr Reena Bhatt, specialist paediatric dentist at the WSLHD Aboriginal Health Hub.
The program aims to strengthen the partnerships between oral health and the Western Sydney Aboriginal community.
WSLHD Aboriginal Health Service manager Belinda Cashman said her team is looking forward to the program being rolled out.
“It is such an important initiative, especially to those children under the age of five,” Belinda said.
“Members of the Aboriginal community don’t like to present to hospital for many reasons and you don’t often get sick from oral health problems until it’s too late to fix them.
“This will allow early intervention and also help us to improve the oral health outcomes of community members from when they are newborns.”
This week, WSLHD is celebrating Dental Health Week. The theme for this year is “Keep your smile for Life”.
To help celebrate, WSLHD Dental officer Dr Michelle McNab offered these four helpful tips for all people:
- Brush teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Clean between your teeth daily using floss or interdental brushes.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet and limit added sugar intake.
- Visit the dentist regularly for check-ups and preventive care.
For more information to celebrate Dental Health Week, click here.