Affordable and Accessible Oral Health Care in Condobolin
In January 2014, the Condobolin Aboriginal Health Service (CAHS), which specialises in indigenous health and primary health care, added a new string to its bow in the form of a state-of-the-art dental clinic. Located in the town’s main shopping precinct, the clinic provides affordable dental care to the whole community.
Poor oral health can effect a person’s education, employment and overall health. The Department of Health notes that indigenous children have twice the rate of tooth decay and are less likely to visit a dentist than other Australian children. Generally speaking, the oral health of regional communities, indigenous and non-indigenous, is considered poorer than that of urban communities.
“The Board of CAHS saw a need within the community,” said Cecil Lester, CAHS Chief Executive Officer. “It is a big need because of how oral health effects health in general – indigenous and non-indigenous people. A lot of people are still never taught how to treat their teeth properly.”
Bringing life back to an impressive old bank building, the new dental clinic includes two fully-equipped treatment rooms and digital X-Ray capability. The clinic charges Veteran’s Affairs rates – 25% less than standard dental cost- and participates in the National Child Dental Benefits Scheme.
As an added benefit, a portion of the old bank building has been converted into very comfortable, modern accommodation for visiting students, doctors and dentists.
“We have training doctors here from the University of Western Sydney four or five times a year,” Cecil explains. “They come they stay for five weeks at a time and are accommodated in the dental building.”
Education also plays an important role in the CAHS Dental Clinic, with dentists visiting the local pre-school to teach basic oral health care and encourage youngsters to visit the dentist.
But Cecil Lester believes affordability will be the key to the success of the clinic. “The bottom line is, it’s all about people getting a service at a reduced price,” he says. “We are providing a good service with very experienced dentists at Veteran’s Affairs rates. That makes a big difference.”
“Children are a priority because improvements to child oral health and prevention will reduce the overall burden of disease and improve long–term oral health across the population. Low income adults are a priority because they are more vulnerable to dental disease – treating their existing and complex oral health problems will lay a foundation for more effective long–term preventive measures.” National Advisory Council on Dental Health 2012