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Wednesday 1 June 2022 9:33am

freedentalmainJamie Marra is a key organiser of the free dental clinics

The Faculty of Dentistry is holding its annual free dental clinics on Sundays in July and August.

The Sunday Clinic serves adults suffering from chronic oral health neglect, referred from Dunedin's only free healthcare clinic Servants Health Centre.

The free clinics will be staffed and run by volunteer dentists, oral health therapists, and supervised fifth year dental students. The team will deliver oral hygiene education, conduct oral health needs assessment, and stabilise the patients' oral health.

This is the third year these clinics have operated, and Jamie Marra has been a key organiser from the beginning. Mrs Marra graduated with her Bachelor of Dental Surgery from Otago in 2020 and is now a Senior House Surgeon with the Faculty of Dentistry.

She remains amazed at the life-changing effect the service has had on patients.

“The feedback from our patients and the medical staff at Servants has been extremely positive. Patients were happy to have their oral healthcare needs met and many were relived of chronic pain and discomfort. Patients reported that their confidence was restored and they were able to smile again. Some were motivated to seek job interviews and attend social groups and outings. They all report being treated with kindness and respect,” says Mrs Marra.

Mrs Marra and Lisa Ung Hanson, also from the Faculty of Dentistry, are co-leading the delivery of this year's clinic.

Most of the patients cared for in previous clinics had multiple dental problems and had not visited a dentist for years because of the cost. Mrs Marra explains that the clinics have a goal of sustainable care. As well as receiving treatment, patients will be enrolled with an accessible provider of their choice for follow-up of ongoing needs and maintenance.

“The purpose of these clinics is not to create a group of patients dependent on this free care, but rather to re-integrate patients that have fallen out of the oral health care system so they can afford to keep up with future maintenance,” says Mrs Marra.

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