Short-stay placements the future for remote area dental services

June 3, 2014 by David Stacey
Short-stay placements the future for remote area dental services

One of the keys to solving extreme shortages of dental practitioners in remote Australia is proving to be short-stay (three to four weeks) placements for final-year dental students, according to a recent report into a 10-year program in WA.

The paper published in The Australian Dental Journal examined evidence gathered from a program which has integrated research, service and visiting education dental services in some of Australia's most remote communities for the past decade.

According to the authors from the International Research Collaborative - Oral Health and Equity at The University of Western Australia's Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, the successes of the last decade include developing new solutions to reduce the dental pain and suffering for people living in remote Australia. Their models of dental services, based on developing strong community links and tied to the supervised student participation, have been found to be both cost-effective and sustainable.

Despite an increasing demand for dental care across Australia most dentists are expected to remain in the city. As trends in medicine have shown, the greatest effect will be felt in rural and remote regions, where an undersupply of dentists already exists.

The increased focus on Indigenous and rural and remote health from the very first year of dental education right through to placements in the final years has introduced new graduate dentists to where dental care was previously all but non-existent.

Previous research suggests an increased likelihood for health graduates to choose rural practice if they have a rural background, or are exposed to rural practice during their education.

Team leader and co-author UWA Winthrop Professor Marc Tennant said the model provided a launch pad for more dentists to consider remote area as a viable career opportunity.

"It is clear that it is important to provide strategies that will increase the recruitment and retention of practitioners in rural and remote areas," Professor Tennant said.

He observed that close professional mentorship and arrangements that saw dentists and students linked to the local community health service were vital to the model's success, which is now being used as the basis for developing new dental schools in Australia.

"A true highlight of the program was to provide local people with skills in disease prevention and work-skills that have contributed to new opportunities for a number of Aboriginal people across remote areas of the country," Professor Tennant said.

The team is now working to share its experiences in other States and internationally and as far afield as Vanuatu and Saudi Arabia.

Explore further: Dentists' knowledge, confidence tied to care for scleroderma patients

Related Stories

Dentists' knowledge, confidence tied to care for scleroderma patients

May 29, 2014
A survey of dentists in Massachusetts suggests that their confidence in treating patients with scleroderma may be related to their familiarity with the autoimmune disease. Dentists who reported feeling knowledgeable about ...

Study: Dental therapists worldwide offer safe care

April 10, 2012
(AP) -- A new report says dental therapists worldwide including those in rural Alaska, offer safe, competent care in locations with rare access to dentists.

Dentist shortage bites California as more choose to practice out of state

March 27, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—A lingering recession, the elimination of Medicaid dental reimbursements and a glut of established dentists in wealthier, populated areas may explain why more new dentists are practicing outside California, ...

Dental therapists clinically competent to provide patient care

May 29, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A new University of Michigan study finds that mid-level practitioners who are trained to provide fillings do so competently and safely, performing these procedures as well as dentists.

Telemental health key to reaching rural communities

February 4, 2014
The potential for telemental health services to make a real difference in rural and remote communities is the focus of a special conference being held at the University of South Australia this month.

Dental insurance doesn't guarantee people will care for their teeth

January 24, 2014
(HealthDay)—Having dental insurance doesn't mean people will actually take care of their teeth, a new study indicates.

Recommended for you

Understanding genetic synergy in cleft palate

July 19, 2017
Like all of the individual elements of fetal development, palate growth is a marvel of nature. In part of this process, ledges of tissue on the sides of the face grow downwards on each side of the tongue, then upward, fusing ...

Use of prefabricated blood vessels may revolutionize root canals

June 12, 2017
While root canals are effective in saving a tooth that has become infected or decayed, this age-old procedure may cause teeth to become brittle and susceptible to fracture over time. Now researchers at OHSU in Portland, Oregon, ...

Recreational cannabis, used often, increases risk of gum disease

May 24, 2017
Columbia University dental researchers have found that frequent recreational use of cannabis—including marijuana, hashish, and hash oil—increases the risk of gum disease.

Grape seed extract could extend life of resin fillings

May 9, 2017
A natural compound found in grape seed extract could be used to strengthen dentin—the tissue beneath a tooth's enamel—and increase the life of resin fillings, according to new research at the University of Illinois at ...

Crooked bite may indicate early life stress

April 13, 2017
Research has repeatedly confirmed that the first 1,000 days after conception strongly influence a person's life expectancy and susceptibility to chronic diseases. The primary marker used to identify early life stress is low ...

New study identifies successful method to reduce dental implant failure

March 24, 2017
According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), 15 million Americans have crown or bridge replacements and three million have dental implants—with this latter number rising by 500,000 a year. The AAID estimates ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.