Restoring the Smiles of Yarrabah
James Cook University is bringing brighter smiles and improved oral health to the Aboriginal Community of Yarrabah through a new outreach initiative, ‘Restoring the Smiles of Yarrabah Shire’.
JCU’s Professor John Abbott is leading the project. He said JCU Dentistry staff and students visited Yarrabah for three days in early September to run education workshops, health promotion and provide free dental examinations. The next step in the initiative begins this week.
“Starting on the 13th September, JCU will operate a monthly shuttle service from Yarrabah to the JCU Dental Clinic at the Nguma-bada campus in Smithfield,” said Professor Abbott.
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,” said Professor Abbott.
This project has been made possible by grants from the Australian Dental Health Foundation and Mars Wrigley Foundation and is being run in partnership with Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Aboriginal Corporation.
Yarrabah local Rosie has received treatment on a broken front tooth as part of the JCU Dentistry program. She is very happy with the treatment provided and her new and improved smile.
“The team at JCU Dental were incredible. 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 put his hand up for the initiative. As a Mutchilba local, he knows firsthand how rural communities can be impacted by a lack of oral health facilities and awareness.
“Coming out to the community for three days has been really important. 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,” said Mr Bailey.
Professor John Abbott