Schoolkids getting teeth fixed
26 June 2014
Over 3000 school children in Dili, Timor-Leste have a good reason to smile thanks to a multinational team of dentists and technicians that included ADF personnel.
Over a two-week period the dentists of Pacific Partnership 14 (PP14) dispensed their trade after creating a dental practice in order to treat their young patients in an appropriate setting.
Once the dental practice was in place, the screening teams went out to the city’s schools and commenced dental screenings on children.
Of the 3000 school children that the team checked, about 300 were sent to the dental practice for further treatment. There the children received basic dental treatment, with most of them receiving new fillings and getting their old fillings replaced. Only a few had to get teeth extracted.
Most people don’t like a trip to the dentist so each child was given a small plush toy Kangaroo which very quickly put a smile back on to their faces again.
Major Phil Worthington, a New Zealand Army Dental Officer, said that he was very happy to see that most parents brought their children to the clinic as normally access to comprehensive dental health support is minimal.
“The level of primary dental care in the local communities is almost zero and I was very happy to see the parents eager for their children to receive dental treatment,” he said.
“What we have seen in the screenings was that most children suffer from tooth decay of their baby teeth. We are sending those children straight to the Comoro Health Facility to receive further treatment.”
FLTLT Ben Cosson, RAAF Dental Officer from No1 Expeditionary Environmental Health Squadron in Townsville, said that treating the school children has really been a wonderful experience.
“The children have really been great. They are very well behaved and easy to treat. They sit down, get the treatment they need and then they are off again,” he said.
“We have done a couple of extractions but we focus on retaining most of their teeth. We are trying to relieve their pain so that they are able to sleep and eat comfortably again.”
The dental team has made sure that those school children that require further treatment have received a treatment-slip that guarantees further treatment by a local dentist after the team has left.
Elsewhere in Asia, Australia’s Pacific Partnership mission continues with nine Australians embarked in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship JS Kunisaki, a 9,000-tonne Osumi-class amphibious operations ship.
The multinational team on the Kunisaki is delivering medical, dental, veterinary and engineering aid to Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines and Indonesia.