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Advancement in the speciality of Paediatric Dentistry

KDT founders John and Jan Owen at work in Frog HollowA Dental Volunteer is a person who provides dental services and support to persons without direct fee or material reward.

Many Australian dentists, other allied dental personnel and other committed people give their time freely to provide oral health services, strategic management, education and training, equipment and materials to persons living in regions where the circumstances restrict the provision of adequate health care services. Dental societies, service clubs and missionary organisations have also provided support.

Over the years there have been several ongoing programmes in areas such as the Asia Pacific Region and Africa, sustained by Australian volunteers. Both the Australian and New Zealand Society of Paediatric Dentistry and the Australasian Academy of Paediatric Dentistry support volunteer dental programs, and many individual members support and participate in these programs.

Within Australia the Kimberley Dental Team Ltd. is a not for profit, Non Government Organisation, and is a team of visiting volunteers from the dental profession and allied health professionals, aiming to enhance current resources and levels of care in the Kimberley region.

The Team is working in concert with Dental Health Services, the Centre of Rural and Remote Oral Health, University of Western Australia and Aboriginal Medical Services, to provide additional and often urgent services to those most disadvantaged by barriers to care such as decreased access, limited staff resourcing and distance.

Overseas, the Rotary Australia-Vietnam Dental Health Project is coordinated by Dr Jamie Robertson. The project began in 1991, and has grown to have three branches

  1. Primary care and school-based disease prevention for rural children. The prevention is in Primary (Elementary) schools and the treatment is for 11 to 13 year old children who are bussed or otherwise taken to the clinics based in small district hospitals or Health stations. Volunteer teams comprise two dentists, one Hygienist or OHT, three DAs. These are augmented by staff from the National Hospital of Odontostomatology (NHOS) in HCMC and the local dental health worker of whatever training. It’s important to have a local included because we want to enhance the local service when we are not there. The visit lasts two weeks.
  2. Dental specialists were added in 1998 to work in departments of NHOS in the city. The numbers vary slightly each year but have included Paediatric dentists, Endodontists, Periodontists, Orthodontists, Prosthodontists, Oral Med., Oral Pathology, OMS, Radiology(Imaging), Public Health and Forensic Odontologists. The one week visit comprises morning clinics, workshop mentoring, and lectures at a conference held towards the end of the week.
  3. Multidisciplinary team for Cleft management. This is a mixture of OMS, Anaesthetists and nurses, Ortho, Paediatric dentist, Speech Pathologist. The visit last about ten days including case selection and workup, operating, reviewing. These specialists also contribute to the conference.

For the past three years the specialist group has gone up to Hanoi to the sister campus of NHOS to give repeat lectures and a brief visit to the Departments there. This adds four days to the trip including a weekend break. Each visit does have its frustrations but these are far outstripped by a great sense of enrichment and team camaraderie. The proof of this is the number of people who go multiple times.

The team for 2015 has already been chosen. For more information please contact Jamie Robertson