Leading the way in dental care

Article image - Leading the way in dental care Brewarrina Shire residents reap the
benefits of dental care.

Brewarrina Shire Council has led the way in rural and remote dental care services through its dental project.

The Project is a partnership between the northwest New South Wales Council, Griffith University, Ochre Health and Greater Western Area Health.

The project has two main aims:

  • providing a dental service to residents of northwestern NSW
  • providing dental students with a rural and remote residential placement that will encourage students to work in rural and remote communities after graduation.

It had been over ten years since the Shire had a full time dental service and five years since a weekly service was available, and Council was struggling
to recruit and retain dental practitioners.

In early February 2009 a dental surgery was built using capital funding. The facility contains four dental clinics which enables four dental chairs to be operating concurrently.

This allows for families who have to travel to be booked together.

Groups of up to eight Griffith University dental students, accompanied by a qualified dental supervisor visit Brewarrina for blocks of three weeks at a time.

The service is free for children under 18 years and holders of Australian Health Care Cards. A partnership with the Greater Western Area Health Service also makes dental treatment of approximately 70 per cent of Brewarrina residents free.

The service aims to improve oral health education among children, improve affordable access to oral health care and reduce cases of secondary illnesses caused by poor oral hygiene that are prevalent in many communities.

Since commencing in February 2009 over 700 patients have received treatment and 1,300 appointments have been attended.

The Shire benefits from improved health, reduced retail leakage and attraction of people to Brewarrina as well as an injection of funds to the local community.

The project ran for 21 weeks in 2009 and will run for 24 weeks in 2010 and for 30 weeks in 2011.

The clinic opens Monday to Friday and services between 25 to 30 patients a day.