With around one in six women experiencing domestic violence at the hands of a partner according to figures from the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Personal Safety Survey, the Australian Dental Health Foundation is providing free dental care to women who have received oral injuries.
The Foundation’s Rebuilding Smiles program delivers pro bono dental treatment to women experiencing domestic violence who may have suffered immediate dental trauma or ongoing oral health problems.
By working with domestic violence support agencies, the Foundation receives applications for assistance from affected women and their families and then places them with Australian dentists who provide their treatment free of charge.
Rebuilding Smiles® delivered about $65,000 of pro bono care to women who experienced domestic violence in 2017/2018 and $164,423 in 2018/2019. The generosity of volunteer dentists, together with sponsors, has helped the Foundation meet this increased demand for services.
In the last financial year, 39 women from around Australia had treatment completed at an average of $4,250 per case, and another 98 women are currently undergoing remedial dental work.
The ABS report noted “that being pushed, grabbed, or shoved was the most common physical assault behaviour experienced by women, regardless of the perpetrator type and that women were more likely to have been kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or choked, when the perpetrator was a male partner compared with another known male (such as a family member or friend)”.
As a result, victims often need require complex and extensive care including dentures, crowns, bridges and implants.
The Foundation meets the costs of these treatments from funds donated from the public, various state governments, corporate sponsors and the Australian Dental Association.
“I never imagined such compassion and generosity until I had experienced it from you all,” one Rebuilding Smiles® patient said.
“Not only have I regained my smile, but I have also regained a little faith in humanity. Both are priceless to me. ‘Thank you’ seems grossly inadequate but it’s all I can offer.”
If you’re dentist who wishes to provide pro bono dental care to victims, contact the ADHF on (02) 88153333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org