Experts worry about dental health
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