Dental service delivery by the RFDS received a significant boost when the Commonwealth announced funding to expand service provision for communities of disadvantage across the nation.
People living and working in rural and remote areas are disproportionately affected by problems associated with poor oral health largely because they have poorer access to services while studies have shown the direct correlation between oral health and avoidable illness.
The RFDS is increasing services to tackle the disparity that exists between urban and remote communities. Poor oral health is the leading cause of potentially preventable hospitalisations in Tasmania. 52% of Tasmanian children aged 5 – 6 years of age and 53% of 12-year-olds experience dental decay.
The RFDS has purchased two dental vans at $25,000 per vehicle and fully equipped them with $50,000 worth of dental equipment including handpieces, scaler and suction unit, autoclave, ultrasonic and dental chair to service remote areas of Tasmania.  Unfortunately capital item purchases are not covered via Commonwealth program.
Here in Tasmania, the newly established RFDS Mobile Dental Care service offers preventative screenings, oral health promotion and treatment by a team comprising a dental therapist, dental assistant and two contracted dentists. The outreach program is offered in a flexible service structure and delivered in rural and remote communities.
The North-West Coast of Tasmania is the first region to receive the much-needed outreach service.  The RFDS dental team has set up a mobile clinic in classrooms to conduct treatments including fissure sealants, fluoride varnish applications, oral hygiene promotion and fillings.
RFDS has also setup a fixed dental clinic at Circular Head Aboriginal Corp office in Smithton, complete with chair, portable equipment and sterilisation facilities, to treat local Tasmanian Aboriginals and community members in a culturally aware environment.
RFDS also collaborates with Oral Health Services Tasmania and the Australian Dental Association and with local health and community programs to ensure all children under the age of 18 and adults holding a health care card are eligible to be treated.

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