Charity helps ‘Fill the Gap’ through free dental treatments for vulnerable Australians
Hundreds of vulnerable patients received free dental treatment, thanks to the efforts of Filling the Gap, the charity of the Australian Dental Association- New South Wales (ADA NSW) branch.
With the help of volunteers, asylum seekers, homeless people, patients with drug and alcohol dependency issues and other disadvantaged Australians were at the receiving end of more than $300,000 worth of free dental treatment.
The treatments provided focused on pain relief and essential care such as fillings, extractions and periodontal care.
Filling the Gap Acting Manager Dr Sarah Raphael said the charity provided vital assistance for patients in need.
“Many of our patients have gone years without seeing a dentist – or may never have seen one at all. Imagine being afraid to smile or being in constant pain and suffering because of the state of your teeth,” Raphael said.
Filling the Gap works with several charities who refer patients to regular clinic days at ADA NSW’s St Leonards base.
The clinics are overseen by ADA NSW staff and feature volunteer dental professionals, including dentists, prosthetists, oral health therapists and dental assistants. Patients are also provided with opportunities for follow-up appointments if needed or referred to community dentists.
“Many patients of Filling the Gap have said the treatment has vastly improved their quality of life, providing them with a heightened sense of dignity and self-respect,” Raphael said.
Filling the Gap acknowledges that it can’t hope to solve the huge inequities in Australia’s dental health system. However, it still aims to help some of the most vulnerable patients in society access vital oral health treatment.
“Good oral health is key to overall wellbeing. That’s why helping everyone – no matter what their personal circumstances are – access dental treatment is so important,” Raphael said.
Because of these efforts, Filling the Gap has been shortlisted for the Associations Forum’s 2020 Achievement of the Year award in recognition of its efforts.
“Oral health shouldn’t be a privilege – it’s a right. Through Filling the Gap, dental practitioners help those in need receive the dental treatment they deserve,” Raphael said.