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Colgate “Healthy Smiles for Life” Initiative. Q&As Q. What is the Healthy Smiles for Life initiative? A. Healthy Smiles for Life is a national program supported by Colgate that will tackle the health problems of Australians in need. It has two goals; (1) to bring together Australians in need with volunteer dentists for free dental treatment; and (2) to educate the community about the prevention of dental disease. Healthy Smiles for Life is supported by National Dental Foundation and Dental Care Network. The main recipient charities are The Salvation Army, Barnardos, The Benevolent Society and Youth Off The Streets. Q. I’m a dentist – how do I get involved? A. To help people in need, we need hundreds of dentists from across Australia to volunteer their time. The level of commitment is up to you the practitioner! At its most basic level, the scheme involves donating your services to take care of just one person. However, if you wish to do more, we would be most grateful. To register, simply visit www.betteroralhealth.com.au and fill in the online form to let us know of your interest in participating. If you have any questions, please call 02 9818 0929. Q. How do I get a patient into the program? A. Once a dentist volunteers their time for the program, Healthy Smiles for Life will liaise with The Salvation Army, Barnardos, The Benevolent Society, Youth Off The Streets and other local charities who will identify people in need of treatment. The people nominated will be existing clients who are being case managed by these charities. The program does not accept nominations directly from the public. Q. Why was it launched? A. The facts speak for themselves. The oral health of Australians, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, is a serious public health problem. Research shows that kids in need are at greatly increased risk of developing severe tooth decay. Up to 16% of Australian children aged 4-10 have decay in more than 30% of their teeth.1 And our 12- year-olds have worse dental health than children in Hong Kong, the Netherlands, England, Wales and Switzerland to name but a few.2 Adult Australians are also in need of assistance, with one in every four adults identified as having at least one tooth with untreated dental decay.3 Australians without dental insurance were found to have over twice the number of decayed surfaces as those with insurance.4 As the National Oral Health Alliance has pointed out, waiting lists for dental treatment in Australia are long, with many patients waiting months or years for treatment, meaning that dental problems may get worse before treatment is available. ABC News has reported that in NSW, some people have been waiting longer than two years for treatment under public dental services. 5 1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Socioeconomic differences in children’s dental health, 2001, Aug 2006, p. 11 2 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Water Fluoridation in Children’s Dental Health, 2002 Child Dental Health Survey, Dec 2007, p. 34. 3 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s dental generations 2004-06, 2007, p.99 4 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s dental generations 2004-06, 2007, p.103. 5 ABC News, 1 April 2009, ‘NSW patients 'waiting 2 years' for dental care’, Liz Foschia. Q. Who is behind it? A. Healthy Smiles for Life has been made possible by support from Colgate, who were eager to partner on a program designed to deliver dental health care where it is needed most. Colgate-Palmolive is a consumer products company specialising in a number of areas, including oral health care. Its vision in oral care is to care for the health and well-being of every mouth, everyday. It strives to constantly improve and innovate to provide the best performance and experience for its consumers, so that they can look and feel their best everyday. National Dental Foundation an independent dental industry initiated entity, acting as a focal point for charity work in the Australian dental industry. Dental Care Network is a group of leading dental practitioners who are dedicated to providing premium service and high quality dental care. Dental Care Network practices are located throughout Australia. The Salvation Army, whose mission is to meet human need wherever it occurs without discrimination, will nominate people in need to be the recipients of the free dental treatment. Barnardos, which works to improve the lives of thousands of Australia’s children, will also nominate children in need to be the recipients of the free dental treatment. The Benevolent Society works with individuals and communities in metropolitan, regional and rural New South Wales and in Queensland. Their vision is that every person is healthy, safe, connected and has a meaningful and productive role in their community. Youth Off The Streets is a community organisation working for young people who are chronically homeless, drug dependent and recovering from abuse. They support young people as they work to turn their lives around and overcome immense personal traumas such as neglect and physical, psychological and emotional abuse. Q. How will the Healthy Smiles for Life program work? A. Once a dentist volunteers for the program, Healthy Smiles for Life will liaise with a charity in the dentist's local area, seeking their help to identify a local person in need of treatment. Healthy Smiles for Life will then liaise with the dentist and the charity to ensure that the person gets the treatment they need at no cost. Q. How are the recipient charities involved in the program? A. They will identify people from their existing network who have poor oral health and Healthy Smiles for Life will facilitate treatment with volunteer dental practitioners. Q. How do I notify Healthy Smiles for Life of a person in need? A. People of any age can be referred to the program. Please consider people from your existing caseload and complete a Healthy Smiles for Life referral form available via www.betteroralhealth.com.au. The form requires you to provide the patient’s details including a brief dental history. A guardian’s contact details are required if you are referring a child. We would recommend you fill out the form in the presence of the patient and, if required, their parent/guardian to ensure the information you provide is as accurate as possible. Q. Is there an age limit for patients? A. Patients of any age are eligible for treatment as part of Healthy Smiles for Life. Q. Is there a limit on the number of patients the charities can refer to Healthy Smiles for Life? A. There is no set limit. One of the key objectives of the initiative is to arrange treatment for hundreds of underprivileged Australians and Healthy Smiles for Life coordinators will be working closely with each charity to monitor the number of patients that are referred and subsequently treated. Q. How is the client matched with a dentist? A. Healthy Smiles for Life coordinators will work with each charity to nominate a dentist in a reasonable geographical area to the location of the client. Q. Is my client guaranteed dental treatment? A. There is no guarantee of dental treatment and this is made clear in the Healthy Smiles for Life referral form, however, Healthy Smiles for Life coordinators will be working as hard as possible to ensure every person referred to the program sees a dentist. Q. What type of dental treatment could my client expect to receive? A. Dentists who register for the Healthy Smiles for Life program nominate specific levels of treatment they are willing to undertake. Examples include cleaning and polishing, fillings, crowns and complex restorations. Q. How long will the program go for? A. Again, the level of commitment is up to the dental practitioner. At its most basic level, the scheme involves donating your services to take care of just one patient. However, if you wish to do more, we would be most grateful. The deadline for dentists to register is Tuesday 1 December 2009 with timeframes for treatment to be negotiated to suit the practitioner. Q. Is this an annual program? A. As Healthy Smiles for Life is a relatively new program we will be assessing the results of the recruitment drive, the number of patients treated and the overall effectiveness of the campaign at its conclusion. We really hope Healthy Smiles for Life will continue year-on-year. Q. Where can I find out more information? A. For further information or media enquiries, contact Katherine Barbeler on 02 9818 0929 or email Katherine.Barbeler@ppr.com.au. PLEASE NOTE: The program does not accept nomination directly from the public.
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