• Community Outreach Dental Program at the School of Dentistry

Community Outreach Dental Program at the School of Dentistry

University of Adelaide Community Outreach Program

Five years along, I look back at our Outreach Dental program with a great deal of pride and gratitude for our relationship with our dental partners-in particular Henry Schein Halas and Henry Schein Cares. From the outset, we have been supported in our endeavours to provide care for our marginalised community.

The need is great with increasing elderly people finding themselves vulnerable, in financial distress, middle income Australians with no disposable income, our vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers, numerous people suffering from a range of mental health problems from teens, all ages and now returning soldiers, war veterans who find themselves struggling to assimilate back into the community. This year we have extended education services to organisations such as Teen Challenge – who provide education, support and rehabilitation for young people (and some older) who are recovering from addictions.

Each time I talk about our clinic, our volunteer dentists are such an integral part of our service- providing service and mentoring for our students – bringing experience and a common sense approach to care.

The 2016 Dental Student’s (AUDSS) Sleep Out was held at the Salvation Army premises where they assisted with meal service, sorting donated clothing, providing dental health education and then settling for the night in sleeping bags on the floor in the shelter. This was an earthing experience for many of our students who have had little contact and experience with homelessness.

I would like to share a poem one of our students on the Sleep Out wrote. I believe it is an example of hope for the future of our young professionals, who see their role as more than just providing a service, but providing support and care to patients too.

I Don’t Remember how to Smile. As I put my head down to rest,
With my shivering baby clinging onto my chest; I look up to the sky,
In search of a being I can ask why? Why I don’t remember how to smile...
They say a smile says a thousand words, Maybe that’s why I go unnoticed.
I have lost my family and friends,
Together with every dream I was once promised. The streets have become my home for a while, And it is here I’ve forgotten how to smile.
People despise me
When they notice, me they flee. If they do walk past, they stare, Before taking a good gasp of air.
They grasp their children’s hands tight, And move their handbags out of sight. Yet I have no criminal file,
All I want is to remember how to smile. Some say I am always angry,
Some think I am always hungry. Rather smile and I will try smile back,
That would mean more than just a snack. Help me feel sane,
Help me remember what it feels like to smile again! I look back down at my shivering baby,
Beautiful with ten teeth now!
Maybe one day she can teach me how to smile, But someone has to first teach her how.
At the moment we only have two things in common, Ten teeth which appear rotten.
So someone please help me smile,
That way I can teach my baby how to smile too!

By: Marcy Patsanza (Dental Hygiene student)

If you would like to volunteer, donate or attend their annual dinner email scheincares@henryschein.com.au and we will direct you to the people of Common Ground.

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