Ex­perts worry about den­tal health

Pilbara News - - News - Re­becca Parish

Den­tal health in re­mote Pil­bara com­mu­ni­ties is on par with de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, ac­cord­ing to den­tal ex­perts.

Royal Aus­tralian Air Force Squadron Leader Khai Nguyen is lead­ing two teams of den­tal staff work­ing from South Hed­land and Roe­bourne to pro­vide clin­i­cal den­tal care to indige­nous peo­ple.

Mr Nguyen said he was sad­dened to see the state of den­tal health in the com­mu­ni­ties, ad­ding many peo­ple who had been in tremen­dous amounts of pain or on long-term painkillers had been seen or treated within 40 min­utes.

“The Pil­bara re­gion doesn’t dif­fer too much from the Kim­ber­ley re­gion,” he said.

“There’s cer­tainly the de­mand for den­tal ser­vices, and there’s cer­tainly a lack of ac­cess to den­tal ser­vices in those com­mu­ni­ties and I’d have to say, speak­ing pro­fes­sion­ally, I am a lit­tle bit sad­dened by the fact that the den­tal con­di­tions that I’m see­ing here are sim­i­lar to those that I’ve seen in less-de­vel­oped coun­tries.”

The com­ments come as the RAAF vis­its the re­gion as part of Ex­er­cise Kum­mon­doo, hav­ing vis­ited Broome and the Kim­ber­ley last year.

As part of the month-long ex­er­cise, RAAF mem­bers are treat­ing seven to 12 pa­tients a day in both towns.

The group is also ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple on the im­por­tance of den­tal health.

“I think col­lec­tively the two teams have been mak­ing some in­roads into the com­mu­nity and I think mak­ing quite an im­pact and quite a dif­fer­ence to the den­tal health of the lo­cals,” Mr Nguyen said.

La­bor mem­ber for Min­ing and Pas­toral Stephen Daw­son said he was not sur­prised by the state­ments and said he had met com­mu­nity mem­bers who were con­cerned about the over­all lack of den­tal ser­vices in Hed­land.

He said it was an ap­palling sit­u­a­tion that the State was fail­ing to pro­vide proper and reg­u­lar den­tal health to peo­ple in re­mote Pil­bara com­mu­ni­ties.

Den­tal con­di­tions that I’m see­ing here are sim­i­lar to those that I’ve seen in less de­vel­oped coun­tries. Squadron Leader Khai Nguyen

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