Zaviah's story

Date published

14 Mar 2019

Zaviah is not nervous about going to see the dentist but when he gets in he finds out he does need treatment.


Jenny can see right away that his teeth are not in great health, and when he gets in the dental chair and she examines him she finds he needs to have all but two of his teeth extracted.“

Seven to nine teeth need to come out because it’s such a high risk of infection,” Jenny said.

Although they are his baby teeth they will affect his adult teeth if left untreated as the bacteria in his gums will affect his new teeth.

Unfortunately, Zaviah’s case is typical of what they find in rural parts of Australia where seeing a dentist would mean a long and expensive journey to the nearest town. For children in Bourke it is nearly a five-hour drive to Dubbo which would mean an overnight stay for families who would have to take time off work and take the children out of school just to see a dentist.


What causes children’s teeth to rot?

“It’s a combination of diet and poor teeth brushing,” Jenny said. “Zaviah said he doesn’t brush his teeth much and this is the result.”

“Most of the kids we see need extractions like this,” Emmy said.

When the team was in Brewarrina the week before most of the kids they saw needed similar extractions.

“They drink Coke and soft drinks in their bottles when they are tiny and if they don’t brush their teeth regularly this is what happens.”


Zaviah’s mum Lizzie Orcher, says Zaviah’s favourite drinks are Coke and Splash, the local Bourke cola.

"But no more because he’s got no more teeth,” she said.

 “Now he’s seen the dentist he is ready and he wants to have them come out.”

“He was better at brushing his teeth the first few days after he saw the dentist but I still have to remind him a couple of times in the morning.”

Lizzie is a Kamilaroi and Kumily woman who is from Walgett and moved to Bourke in 1981.


The Flying Doctor helped her to deliver the three youngest of her seven children, including Zaviah. 

On March 1 2011, Zaviah was born in Bourke and then both of them were flown to Dubbo by the Flying Doctor. 

“We are very grateful for the Flying Doctor and to all the people who make donations to support them,” she said

“The dental van coming is great, especially how they go to the school. If we didn’t have them we would have to go to Dubbo or Cobar, or wait for an appointment at the Aboriginal Medical Service and getting an appointment there is really hard.”