Health workers brush up their dental skills

Maintaining good oral health is a challenge that faces many Australians, particularly Aboriginal children in remote and rural communities.

To help raise the level of dental health, Central, as part of the State Government’s $6 million ear, eye and oral health initiative, have begun oral health training in WA’s Mid-West and Pilbara.

The three-day workshop teaches rural health workers how to apply a fluoride varnish, assess oral health, prevent disease and refer patients to dental practitioners.

The aim of the training is to increase accessibility to dental prevention in remote areas to lower the amount and regularity of oral health issues.

Chief Pharmacist, Neil Keen granted a special exemption for Aboriginal health workers and other non-oral health professionals, such as registered nurses and community health nurses to apply the varnish.

A similar program has been previously implemented in the Northern Territory and continues to show positive results in the reduction of tooth decay.


Regular application of the fluoride varnish can reduce decay by up to a third and can be applied to healthy teeth as well as those with decay. It is applied to the teeth of children under five years old every six months.

The training program has been delivered to participants from Wiluna for the Ngangganawili Health Service, Warakurna for the Ngaanyatjarra Health Service, Mt Magnet and Geraldton for Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Health Service, Kalgoorlie for the Bega Garnbirringu Health Service and South Hedland for the Wirraka Maya Health Service and Pilbara.

A total of seven workshops have been undertaken, with further training being offered to health workers in the Kimberley region in 2016.

The program has already trained approximately 60 participants who work in regional and remote locations in Western Australia.

Miriam Thomas, Lecturer and facilitator of these workshops is committed to providing continued support to all participants.

“I will continue to liaise with future, current and past participants to ensure that the knowledge and skills learnt are maintained”, said Miriam.

The responses from participants who have completed the three-day workshop have been overwhelmingly positive. They have expressed how much they have learnt about Oral Health Care and the Application of Fluoride Varnish and acknowledged their significant value in the prevention of tooth decay and other dental diseases.

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