Celebrating free student dental care on World Oral Health Day

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Published Mar 20 2023

Merri Health joined Victorian Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas, Dental Health Services Victoria, students and staff at Glenroy Central Primary School today to celebrate World Oral Health Day.

Glenroy Central Primary is currently home to Merri Health’s Smile Squad, a Victorian Government program bringing healthy smiles to students with free mobile dental care in state primary and secondary schools. 

Over 850 children across six schools in Merri-bek and beyond have received dental checks ups and treatment from Merri Health’s Smile Squad since the program launched last April.

The event celebrated the Victorian Government’s $321.9M investment in Smile Squad; and new Dental Assisting Traineeship Program which aims to provide 100 new dental assistants state-wide.

Merri Health Acting CEO Maryanne Tadic said, “This strong investment in our dental system will provide even better care and help to reduce appointment wait times for Victorians. We welcome the trainee program and are currently recruiting a member to join our team.”

“We’re proud to bring kids the dental care they deserve and need through Smile Squad. Early treatment and education that helps kids care for their teeth sets them up for lifelong better oral health.”

Evidence shows Smile Squad is providing dental care to many children who would not access it otherwise, helping to reduce the risk of escalating dental problems.

“Our Smile Squad team has treated a number of kids who hadn’t been to a dentist before and had significant dental issues,” Maryanne said.

“We can tailor our dental care services and prioritise where it’s most needed through our strong understanding and connections with local communities.”

Many children and families were unable to access dental appointments during COVID-19 restrictions, resulting in children now presenting with more dental issues.

Smile Squad is helping to address this gap, taking dental care direct to schools. It’s a fantastic partnership between Dental Health Services Victoria, communities, schools and Community Health.

“Community Health brings significant value to our communities and the wider health system and can help solve the critical challenges our health system faces.” Maryanne said.

Smile Squad is led by Dental Health Services Victoria and delivered by community dental agencies across the state.

Find out more at Merri Health | Dental