HELP­ING TO SAVE 350 TARA SMILES

100 vol­un­teers chew through den­tal work

Chinchilla News - - FRONT PAGE -

TARA res­i­dents were all smiles on the Easter week­end af­ter a troupe of vol­un­teers ar­rived from Bris­bane to fix their grins.

More than 100 vol­un­teer den­tists, nurses, den­tal stu­dents, tech­ni­cians and other health pro­fes­sional from the Bud­dhist Com­pas­sion Re­lief Tzu-Chi Foun­da­tion saw about 350 pa­tients dur­ing three days.

The Tzu-Chi foun­da­tion has been pro­vid­ing free den­tal care to Tara res­i­dents since 2007, af­ter learn­ing of the town’s lack of a den­tist.

Head den­tist and med­i­cal team co-or­di­na­tor Jerry Wu said tech­ni­cians worked around the clock and com­pleted 50 den­tures, more than dou­ble what they achieved last year.

“The tech­ni­cians, they didn’t sleep for the last two nights,” Dr Wu said. “Ev­ery­one wants den­tures made so we do as much as we can.”

Dr Wu said it nor­mally took two weeks to make a set of den­tures.

Vol­un­teers also drove to nurs­ing homes and ru­ral prop­er­ties to see pa­tients who would have oth­er­wise missed out.

“As soon as we ar­rived we vis­ited the nurs­ing homes,” Dr Wu said. “We went there to check their teeth and if there’s any­one who has ur­gent needs or con­cerns, we would book them in and treat them in the hall so we can do proper treat­ment.”

Tara res­i­dent Jan­ice Wat­son, 76, came to the mo­bile den­tal clinic as a pa­tient in 2007 and be­gan vol­un­teer­ing the next year.

Af­ter her ini­tial visit, she wanted to help out in any way she could as a way of giv­ing back.

Ms Wat­son said the in­valu­able ser­vice pro­vided by the vol­un­teers was greatly ap­pre­ci­ated by the Tara com­mu­nity.

“It’s so dis­heart­en­ing for peo­ple, they can’t af­ford to go to a pri­vate den­tist.

“So it’s won­der­ful that they’re here.”

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