The Australian Dental Association Foundation, in partnership with the Wrigley Company Foundation, awarded US$60,000 in grants to 10 volunteer organisations across Australia in August.
"With dental decay and gum disease two of the most common adverse health conditions in Australia, it's all the more alarming that 90% of dental disease is in fact preventable," said Peter Cronin, Chairman Advisory Board, Australian Dental Association Foundation.
"This makes our partnership with Wrigley so vitally important, supporting dentists and students across Australia who volunteer their time and services to assist communities that for various reasons cannot access appropriate dental care. Last year, seven grantees recruited over 75 volunteers to provide more than 4,000 treatments to 1,400 patients," Mr Cronin added.
Andrew Leakey, General Manager, Wrigley Pacific, said "For more than 25 years, Wrigley has supported research and philanthropic initiatives that aspire to make a difference to oral health.
"We are delighted with the level of engagement with this year's program, nearly doubling the number of applications compared to 2011".
The Community Service Grants initiatives, facilitated by Give2Asia, provides much needed funding to volunteer dentists, dentistry students and teams of allied dental professionals, to help improve the oral health of some of Australia's most deprived communities:
Supporting Indigenous communities:
- Kimberley Dental Team Inc - Through recent screening initiatives, the Kimberley Dental Team (KTD) found that up to 75% of primary school children in East Kimberley Aboriginal communities have widespread decay requiring treatment urgently or within six months. The grant will provide support for volunteer dentist Dr Jilen Patel to travel to remote community locations in and around Halls Creek and volunteer from the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council's (KAMSC) purpose-built mobile dental clinic truck.
- New Horizons and James Cook University - Queensland Cancer Registry figures for 1999-2008 show Indigenous groups have an age standardised rate of Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OSCC), 'oral cancer', that is twice the rate of non-Indigenous populations. James Cook University Dental School, in partnership with New Horizons Clinic, will utilise grant funding to visit local community health centres in Cairns, Yarrabah and Mossman Gorge and provide free dental check-ups including taking brush biopsy and saliva samples to test for OSCC. The program will provide quit smoking literature to raise awareness of oral cancer risk factors and encourage regular dental check-ups. Volunteers aim to complete up to 200 successful screening tests and risk assessments, with a total of 96 volunteer hours to be donated.
- Queensland Health (Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service - C&H HHS) - The grant will provide vital support to a Queensland Health Oral Health Services initiative, promoting the importance of custom fitted mouthguards and first aid in the event of dental trauma on the sporting field. Oral Health Services C&H HHS will partner with the Cowboys Junior Rugby League (JRLFC) Innisfail Under 16's, providing 50 junior players with a custom fitted mouthguard, a training program for parents and coaches and implementation of a Mouthguard Policy for the Club.
- Tooth Mob (Charlie Perkins Trust) - The Tooth Mob Program is working with Northern Territory Department of Health (NT Health) and Thamarrurr Development Corporation to provide dental services in Wadeye (NT) - one of the largest remote communities in Australia with approximately 2,500 Indigenous residents. The grant will provide vital funding for oral care services in Wadeye for six consecutive months, enabling 24 dental professionals to volunteer for two weeks per month, representing urban practices from Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney.
- Hope4Health (Griffith University) - Over the past three years the HOPE4HEALTH (H4H) program has set-up a much needed volunteer-run Emergency Dental Clinic in the Indigenous community of Cherbourg. The grant will provide much needed funds to volunteer dentistry students to support the running costs of the H4H clinic, whilst also supporting the Smile Wise oral health education program which provides interactive educational workshops to school age children.
Supporting homeless and youth communities:
- University of Queensland & Mission Australia - The partnership project will explore how oral healthcare services can be integrated into specialist residential programs for homeless people. Based at Roma House (a Queensland Government funded Mission Australia service targeting the state's most high needs homeless people) in Brisbane, the project team will provide onsite oral screening, relevant and sensitively designed oral health education and urgently needed oral health care products, as well as collecting data on oral health needs and quality of life.
- University Dental Students' Society (UDSS) of University of Western Australia (UWA) - The grant will enable a team of 30 UDSS volunteers to expand its pilot study to include several schools in Western Australia, with visits to more than 300 primary school aged children. The grant will enable UDSS to further investigate how oral health education should become an integral subject for school aged children.
- Peninsula Health - With only a small number of 13 to 17 year olds currently accessing dental services within the Frankston and Mornington Peninsula, this grant will enable Peninsula Health to establish a working group, comprising school staff, students and parents from Mt Erin Secondary College and partnering with members of the Peninsula Health Community Dental team. The grant will assist the evaluation of current local dental initiatives and focus group research with local teens. Based on this research, an action plan will be developed to improve the oral health education amongst the youth community and their attitudes towards accessing local dental health services. A total 1,600 hours will be volunteered.
Improving access for the elderly and special needs dentistry:
- Dental Outreach Pty Ltd - Dental Outreach's volunteer project will provide on-site mobile dental services for over 180 highly dependent, mobility constrained nursing home residents in the Yorke Peninsula community over the next six months. The grant will enable the volunteer team to eradicate patient travel and waiting times, plus provide oral health education for residents, but also their carers for ongoing management.
- Cerebral Palsy Alliance - The community grant will assist with the purchase of autoclave equipment for the recently opened state-of-the-art dental clinic located in Allambie Heights (see story to the right).
Wrigley Company Foundation
Established in 1987, the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company Foundation has distributed more than USD$50 million to non- profit organisations around the world. The mission of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company Foundation is to improve the health of people and our planet through sustainable initiatives focused in oral health and environmental stewardship as well as local needs that ensure a healthy community.