Something to smile about: 10-year milestone of the Community Outreach Dental Program

Something to smile about: 10-year milestone of the Community Outreach Dental Program

This September, the University of Adelaide and its Adelaide Dental School are proud to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Community Outreach Dental Program. Based at the Common Ground complex at Light Square, the program provides dental services to some of South Australia’s most vulnerable individuals and communities. 

Over the past 10 years, the program has helped more than 1500 people from disadvantaged backgrounds access much needed dental treatments, free of charge.

"The Community Outreach Dental Program has played a pivotal role in providing our students with meaningful experiences delivering life-changing dental services to disadvantaged South Australians,"Professor Richard Logan, Dean and Head of Adelaide Dental School

 The program’s dental clinic was established in 2011 with a one-off grant from the Department of Housing and Ageing. Generous partners, volunteers and donors have since covered all operating costs, and the continued success of the clinic relies on fundraising and regular giving.

Each week, about 25 patients benefit from the services of the Community Outreach Dental Program, with another five or so patients on the waiting list at any given time. For a one-chair clinic, this is no small feat. 

Dean and Head of Adelaide Dental School, Professor Richard Logan, said “the Community Outreach Dental Program has played a pivotal role in providing our students with meaningful experiences delivering life-changing dental services to disadvantaged South Australians.”

“The amount of dental work I’ve had done here—I would never have been able to access it in any other way. For me to be able to move forward in my life and not carry the stigma [of poor oral health] around with me, it’s amazing,” said Michelle, a patient of the program.
 
Testament to the success of the program are the repeat bookings the clinic receives. Patients are encouraged to return to the clinic every six to 12 months, depending on the complexity of their dental needs.  

The Community Outreach Dental Program consists of a small team of volunteer dentists, dental hygienists and oral health therapists who supervise students from the University of Adelaide’s dentistry and oral health degrees. The program provides students with a practical component in a real time dental setting, and the unique opportunity to offer services to a diverse client group.

Lucas Ktoris, a fifth-year student in the University of Adelaide’s Bachelor of Dental Surgery and student volunteer in the program said: “Good oral health should be accessible to all individuals, regardless of background. The Community Outreach Dental Program at Common Ground has been an excellent clinical opportunity and I look forward to changing more lives in the future, one tooth at a time.”

Margie Steffens, Community Outreach Dental Program Director, explains that the average patient receives approximately $900 worth of free dental treatment. These estimated values are based on public healthcare costs and include basic services such as examinations, intraoral radiographs, scale and cleans and surface restorations or fillings. 

Most recently, the program has extended its services to help international students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to access basic dental care. 

“Our Community Outreach Dental Program is entering its 10th year of service to community and education for our dental and oral health students. 

“On behalf of the program, I’d like to extend immense gratitude to our generous donors, volunteers and partners—without you, we would not have been able to care for our state’s most disadvantaged and marginalised communities. 

“We sincerely thank you for your continued support, and we look forward to celebrating this achievement with you and strengthening our relationships moving forward,” said Steffens.

To find out more or support the program, please visit: https://health.adelaide.edu.au/dentistry/community/community-outreach 
 

Tagged in dental, community outreach, featured story