Adelaidean - News from the University of Adelaide The University of Adelaide Australia
October 2007 Issue
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Oral health lesson for shelter residents

 Oral Health

University of Adelaide dental students spent their own time recently giving advice to some of Adelaide's most disadvantaged people about the importance of oral health.

In partnership with Colgate, Bachelor of Dental Surgery and Bachelor of Oral Health students visited St Vincent's Day Night Shelter and Byron Place Community Centre to give oral health advice and hand out free dental care products supplied by Colgate and Wrigley.

St Vincent's offers accommodation, evening meals and breakfast, and access to various support services. Byron Place offers access to health care, various support services and refreshments for homeless and other needy people in Adelaide's city centre.

Dental School lecturer Margaret Steffens, who co-ordinated the shelter visits as part of Colgate's Oral Health Month, said both students and shelter residents benefited from the visits.

"Disadvantaged people may not see the immediate need for oral care due to their priority of needs and, for various reasons, they may avoid contact with dental services until their need is urgent," said Ms Steffens.

"This was an excellent opportunity for our students to increase their own awareness of the needs that exist within the broader community. At the shelters, our students were able to talk to the residents about any dental problems they were having and give simple advice about looking after their teeth and gums. Thanks to Colgate, we were supplied with a generous amount of free toothpaste, toothbrushes, samples of floss and brochures. Wrigley supplied us with free sugarless gum.

"The benefit was two-fold in that the students were visiting the homeless in their 'home', reducing the perceived gap that is often evident between professionals and the patient and thereby reducing anxiety and encouraging a more open and relaxed relationship. It is hoped that this will be the beginning of similar future ventures."

In another initiative sponsored by Colgate and Wrigley, Bachelor of Oral Health students, completing their second year, visited Foodland stores throughout suburban Adelaide with the theme 'Good oral health for all'.

Students engaged with a broad spectrum of the public, ranging from early childhood through to older age, and were able to informally discuss optimal care for particular age groups.

Story by Robyn Mills

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Fourth-year Dental Surgery student Ashley Freeman (right) demonstrates good brushing technique to Byron Place client Stephen
Photo by Robyn Mills

Fourth-year Dental Surgery student Ashley Freeman (right) demonstrates good brushing technique to Byron Place client Stephen
Photo by Robyn Mills

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