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01 May 2007 | Australasian Dental Practice

news > Spectrum > Page 54

Something to smile about: new focus on dental care in the bush

Indigenous communities who suffer from geographic and socio-economic disadvantage, limited access to health care, and multiple health risk factors will benefit from an agreement between Griffith University and Colgate-Palmolive.


Colgate will fund a senior academic position at Griffith to drive innovative research, education and community service in rural, remote and Indigenous oral health.

Griffith's Dean of Dentistry and Oral Health Professor Newell Johnson said the agreement supports the University's commitment to social justice and his own vision for a strong public health focus in the School's curriculum.

"The Colgate Chair in Rural, Remote and Indigenous Oral Health provides us with a fantastic opportunity to help advance oral health outcomes in these needy areas."

He said tooth extractions, often requiring a general anaesthetic and hospital stay, were one of the most common health reasons for Indigenous people having to leave their communities.

Aboriginal children have higher rates of dental caries than non-Aboriginal children and Aboriginal adults have more dental decay and tooth loss than other adults.

"This agreement improves our capacity to build synergies between oral and general health promotion, research the common risk factors in Indigenous communities, and expose oral health professionals to the challenges and rewards of working in these communities," Professor Johnson said.

Griffith already has oral health students working on research placements in the Aboriginal communities of Arukun in Cape York and Cherbourg in south-east Queensland.

Dr Barbara Shearer, Scientific Affairs Manager for Colgate Oral Care in Australia, said the Colgate Chair in Rural, Remote and Indigenous Oral Health was an important expansion of the company's commitment to improving oral health in Australia.

"Our Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program was introduced 10 years ago in Australia to help improve oral health in children. This Chair in Rural, Remote and Indigenous Oral Health will enable Colgate to work with the dental profession and academia to help improve the oral health of people in need."

A worldwide search for candidates for the Colgate Chair in Rural, Remote and Indigenous Oral Health is underway.

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