The eight chair dental laboratory was officially opened by Dr Mark Gussy – the incoming Head of Dentistry and Oral Health at the Rural Health School.
'The space simulates the real world work environment of dentists and oral health therapists, complete with access to electronic patient records, digital dental imaging equipment and audio visual capacity,' Dr Gussy said.
Dr Gussy comes to the Dental and Oral Health School on a mission to improve the oral health of rural, Indigenous, migrant and refugee children. With rates of up to 70 per cent of severe dental decay occuring in some Indigenous communities, Dr Gussy says this is a health crisis that can't be ignored.
'Disadvantaged families are often hidden from view and not attending the local dentist because of prohibitive costs and a belief it's not a serious health problem. My research focuses on this and how to change it,' he said.
Dr Gussy is a chief investigator on the project Teeth Tales - looking at why oral health care programs and services for young children are not reaching refugee and migrant communities. The study has attracted 1.2 million in funding from the Australian Research Council and Merri Community Health Services.
He is also a heavily involved in a separate study called 'Splash!' which looks at dental decay and obesity. The longitudinal work involves tracking a birth cohort of 500 children from disadvantaged communities in rural and regional Victoria and examining if what they drink has an impact on oral health and risk of obesity.
'In my teaching and research, the focus is on prevention. Contrary to what most people believe, nobody needs to have tooth decay. We're trying to reorient our graduates and the public that this is a disease process. The cavity is the end point. And it's preventable.
'My goal is to get that message out in rural and disadvantaged communities and prompt action.'
Media Contact: Catherine Garrett