University helps community to brush up on Oral Health skills
Paul Jebsen has been brushing his teeth for decades, but was happy to brush up on his technique when visiting the University of Newcastle’s Community Mobile Oral Health Service.
Launched earlier this year, the service is available to seniors and healthcare card holders who are provided with a free oral health exam, teeth cleansing and fluoride treatment, by the Oral Health students who operate the van under the supervision of a qualified dental technician.
The Mobile Oral Health van was set up outside Mingara Recreation Club at Tumbi Umbi throughout August, and will visit more locations on the Central Coast in coming months.
"The students gave me some tips on the correct way to brush my teeth and floss, and to think that I have not been doing it right for all this time, so I guess that you are never too old to learn new things," Mr Jebsen, from Bateau Bay, said.
"I have never visited the dentist regularly, and like a lot of people don’t really enjoy getting my teeth checked, but the service the students provided was really professional and I was made to feel very comfortable, which made the experience less stressful."
An oversupply of patients meant a waiting list was created for vacant appointments, said Oral Health Van supervisor, Joanna An.
"All of the students who staff the van are about to graduate from their Oral Health degrees, so this experience is vital to ensuring they have the clinical and professional skills needed to succeed in their careers,"she said.
"The students have back-to-back appointments and are given an hour to complete their tasks and have to manage their own client workload, just like they will when they start practising, so it is an excellent test of their time management and client liaison skills."
Oral Health student, Erin Taylor, 24 from Adamstown, said the clinical experience gained while working for the mobile health service, not only counted towards her degree as part of the University’s Work Integrated Learning(WIL) initiative, but helped to cement and to complement the theoretical knowledge she has gained from her studies.
"We have had an opportunity to work with clients of all ages, which present different health needs, so it has been an excellent opportunity to get a better understanding of the needs of our future clients."
The charitable arm of the University, the University of Newcastle Foundation, was instrumental in bringing together a number of community organisations and industry, to get the mobile health service moving.
Oral health appointments are essential and can be made by phoning (02) 4349 4416.