RFDS hits the road to bring free dental care to regions
ROYAL Flying Doctor Service members will descend from the clouds and onto the tarmac for the next five years to provide free dental care to regional Queenslanders.
A mobile dental unit, pulled by an 18-wheel semi-trailer, will start its oral health voyage around Queensland on February 4 visiting nine towns including Moranbah, Clermont, Sapphire and Mount Isa.
QCoal has contributed $5 million to cover operating costs while the Commonwealth Government has chipped in more than $1 million.
Patients will be able to undergo x-rays and teeth extraction with the aid of an OPG machine which conducts panoramic x-rays of teeth.
"They are very rare machines particularly outside any major city," RFDS chief executive Nino Di Marco said.
"So the idea of having this type of technology and this standard of equipment going in a mobile dental truck out to communities where they don't even have access to oral heath is a opportunity for us to meet some of those needs out there."
According to the Australian Dental Association Queensland, 30% of the population suffer from untreated dental disease and have difficulty accessing dental care.
RFDS expect to treat people from all walks of life, including farmers, travelling miners and children, who may suffer from conditions such as gum disease and decay, due to a lack of dental check-ups.
"What we found is anywhere outside the major cities there is a need for oral health," Mr Di Marco said.
"This is particularly important that there is direct link between poor oral health and poor general health.
"This is aimed to everyone and anyone working or living or travelling around the communities we visit.
"Oral health in youngsters is particularly challenging issue. If we can do something about improving oral health in youngsters that really makes a real difference later in life."
The program has been set up so there are no out-of-pocket expenses for patients.