2017 was a very busy year for one of the Australian Dental Health Foundation’s programs, namely its Rebuilding Smiles program. The program, which currently focuses on the provision of dental services to victims of domestic violence and their families, has received over 60 applications for assistance from victims of domestic violence. Ninety per cent of these victims have been placed with a dentist, who has provided treatment that restored the victim’s dentition to a functional and aesthetic state, in the process delivering much needed renewed confidence. That is a lot of people and families whose lives have been transformed.
“Melissa” is one striking example of what change a program like Rebuilding Smiles can make in a person’s life. Eighteen months ago, Melissa and her son lived in fear, poverty and violence. After leaving the relationship, Melissa engaged with the Nexus Family Violence Support program which provides intensive therapeutic support to women, children and their families experiencing family violence. Despite leaving the relationship and being well supported by her Family Violence (FV) caseworker, Melissa felt socially isolated, lacked the confidence and overall sense of well-being to participate in the community. In particular, Melissa experienced ongoing pain from untreated tooth decay and had a front black tooth. This caused Melissa great discomfort, as well as making her feel embarrassed and self-conscious. Aware of Melissa’s distress, her FV case worker, Julia, applied to the Rebuilding Smiles Program.
“Melissa is now pain free and nearly finished her treatment. She has been cared for by a very gentle and caring dentist, which really helped as she was very nervous prior to going. Being pain free and more confident with her smile has assisted Melissa immensely. Rebuilding Smiles is an important support system that has helped Melissa rebuild her new life”, said Julia.
This case and other numerous cases like it could not occur without the help of many parties. The Foundation is deeply appreciative of the many dentists who have put their hand up to participate in the Rebuilding Smiles program and assist patients like Melissa. By donating their services freely to the victims of domestic violence, they allow many patients to restore their self-confidence and become effective parents and members of society.
The program’s donors are also an important part of its success. Colgate, the initial supporter of Rebuilding Smiles continues to provide financial support and resources to the Foundation while Straumann has recently agreed to provide funding and resources. These resources provide valuable oral hygiene products to victims to help them maintain their oral health status. Without the support of Colgate, Straumann and the other generous donors who have contributed financially to the program, the program would not have been as successful as it has been. Their support ensures the ongoing growth and delivery of services to victims of domestic violence and their families.
If you would like to assist the Foundation in this project and you are a dentist or dental health professional willing to provide care to these patients, please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to support the program, you can Make a Donation