Free dental clinic improves the welfare of Aboriginal Australians

Category : Health

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. overall / ˈoʊ vərˌɔl / (adj.) – including or considering all aspects of something

    The overall performance was good because the actors did well in all parts of the play.

  2. oral / ˈɔr əl / (adj.) – relating to the mouth or speaking

    Mike brushes his teeth twice a day to avoid oral health problems.

  3. extraction / ɪkˈstræk ʃən / (n.) – (in medicine) the process of removing a tooth

    She just had an extraction, so she can’t eat solid food.

  4. hail / heɪl / (v.) – to praise or consider someone or something as being impressive or important

    The public hailed the man as a hero for saving the child from the fire.

  5. replicate / ˈrɛp lɪˌkeɪt / (v.) – to do something again in exactly the same way

    Many scientific studies try to replicate real-life situations in their experiments.


Read the text below.

A free dental service is being provided by dental students in an attempt to raise the overall health and access to care for First Nation Australians. Many suffer from bad oral health which can negatively impact their overall wellbeing, but a Southern Queensland clinic at the center of an indigenous community is making a difference.

Having a great smile is very important for Gavin Saltner. He’s been a regular patient of the University of Queensland dental clinic in Dalby since it opened ten years ago. Saltner’s treatment is provided free of charge by students who are supervised. “It helps our people. Some people, like I say, just can’t afford to travel. It’s in our own town, which is great,” he says.

For students, it’s an opportunity to gain important experience and to learn how to deal with the challenges indigenous patients face, a population that is at higher risk of dental issues.

“A lot of patients do come from quite far away. They drive like two, three hours even, to come see us,” explains student dentist Mirabel Lee. “I think it does give you a bit of a better idea of what goes on in Australia as a whole. So not just in the big cities, but also in a small town like Dalby,” says student dentist Dan Yuet Yau.

A University of Queensland study shows that, at a local level, the work done by the clinic is having a positive impact. “There’s a lot less sort of emergency work extractions, people losing teeth and needing dentures. These days, much more of the treatment that the students provide is actually preventive services,” says researcher Dr. Sandra March.

Since the clinic opened, almost 180 graduates have become trained dentists. It’s being hailed as a model that can be used to improve the health of other people living in rural and less accessible areas of Australia. “We’re hoping to take this forward, Goondir is looking into establishing a bigger clinic in Chinchilla as well, and we want to replicate this model there,” says Shubham Weling of Goondir Health Services.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Australians receive free dental treatments from supervised dental students to raise oral health in the community. Do you think this service is risky or beneficial? Why? Would you get a free dental service from a dental student? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Aside from helping the community, it’s also an opportunity for students to gain experience and learn how to deal with the challenges patients face. As a patient, how important is experience for you in choosing which medical practitioner you would like to get services from? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Is dental care accessible to both urban and rural areas in your country? Why do you think it’s important to have easy access to dental care? Discuss.
  • What do you think are some factors that stop people from accessing dental services in your country (ex. cost of the service, busy schedule)? Has any of these factors stopped you from getting dental service before? Why or why not? Discuss.
Category : Health