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TOOTH Program

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TOOTH Program Partnership

In 2012, through an innovative partnership with the Investec Foundation and the Gonski Foundation the RFDS launched a new oral health service in north west NSW to address the poor and deteriorating oral health in some of our most remote communities.

128 dental clinics and 128 dental therapy clinics will be provided each year to the communities of Bourke, Lightning Ridge, Collarenebri and Goodooga. These communities were identified as some of the most disadvantaged in the state with low socio-economic factors combining with lack of dental services and fluoridation of drinking water to adversely affect their oral health.

The TOOTH program began in February 2012 with veteran RFDS dentist Dr Lyn Mayne establishing the clinics. Shortly after she introduced the new dental officer, Dr Hendrik Lai to take over the service based at the newly re-developed RFDS Dubbo Base.

To encourage students to continue their careers in the areas of most need, dental students will work alongside Dr Lai at appropriate clinics. This will provide valuable clinical experience for the students but will also meet the need for clinical assistance for the dentist.

The first three years of the TOOTH program will cost $2.5 million and are jointly funded by the RFDS, Investec Foundation and the Gonski Foundation.
With the support of the Gonski Foundation and Investec Bank, the RFDS SES aims to secure funding for the program from the NSW and Australian Governments and transition to full government funding within three years of operation.

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Pictured: Mother and daughter after visiting the dentist at their local RFDS clinic

NSW Dental Facts

  • In North West NSW, 1,000 school age children have dental caries (irreversible tooth decay) and this is predicted to be left untreated. (90% of tooth loss is due to dental caries and periodontal disease).  
  • In 2007, only 45% of young children (5-6 years) in the Greater Western Area Health Service were free of dental caries, compared with a state average of 60%.
  • There are also high rates of edentulism and missing teeth.  
  • Both child and adult populations have very poor oral health, compounded by poor diet and lack of access to dental education and prevention programs.
For more information about RFDS dental programs please click here.