Dr Janet Wallace, a registered oral health therapist, senior lecturer at the University of Newcastle, and life member of the Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists Association (ADOHTA), has recently received a valuable and prestigious grant from the Elderslee Foundation Australia.
The grant of $540,000 will go towards further funding the successful ‘Senior Smiles’ program, which has been assisting elderly individuals on the Central Coast with their oral health for over eight years. The money will be primarily used to fund the employment of dental hygienists and oral health therapists.
Dr Wallace’s research shows that, around Australia, residents in aged-care facilities are often only treated for oral health conditions when it becomes an emergency.
“Our program means the team is able to provide a preventive oral health focus, gain the trust of residents in order to proactively identify issues in their oral health and fast track their treatment for specialist attention before the problems become severe”, Dr Wallace said.
Tan Nguyen, the president of ADOHTA, congratulated Dr Wallace and her team, saying: “This is a fantastic achievement for Dr Wallace and her colleagues, and really highlights the quality of, and immense value in, their work. The Senior Smiles program has been greatly successful in delivering early intervention and treatment for Australian’s senior citizens, who are an at-risk group for developing acute oral health problems.”
Nguyen added: “We believe that the awarding of this grant also illustrates the crucial role that our oral health professionals play in the overall oral healthcare of Australians nation-wide. Oral health professionals are a highly-valued member of the dental health team and contribute immensely to preventative care. This only further demonstrates that oral health professionals should be recognised as independent practitioners.”