Curtin University Oral Health student Michelle Rodwell is leaving Australia for the very first time to travel all the way to Siem Reap in Cambodia to give children and adults the opportunity of a great and confident smile.
After being a dental nurse for seven years, Ms Rodwell said she has seen what poor oral hygiene can do to teeth and a person’s confidence.
“I am very passionate about oral health and wanted to be more involved with being able to treat patients myself,” she said.
“My expectations are to find very poor oral hygiene within the community with no motivation or education towards oral health.”
A previous student who had volunteered in Cambodia before told Ms Rodwell that children’s oral hygiene is very poor.
“When she asked the children about brushing they knew they had to brush but didn’t have the supplies or the education to know what will happen if they don’t brush,” she said.
For Ms Rodwell this puts a burden of disease on oral health, as there are limited resources like toothbrushes and toothpaste and lack of facilities that provide care and education.
This is the first time oral health therapy students are able to take part in this experience.
“We are hoping to achieve awareness of the importance of oral health and express it through the whole community,” she said.
“By promoting and educating oral health we are hoping to connect with local support workers, adults and children in ways to make it fun and easy to fall into a routine to keep a healthy confident smile.”
Ms Rodwell was given the opportunity to be a part of the Go Global program, which provides health sciences students to undertake an international clinical fieldwork placement as partner sites in Asia.
Some of her volunteering will involve supplying communities with the resources required to take care of their teeth and educating and promoting children, adults and support workers about the requirement of oral hygiene.
This includes educating everyone about tooth decay and how to prevent it and telling them of the consequences of not looking after their teeth.
She will be leaving in November and will be volunteering for a month but needs to collect $4500 to pay for her flights, accommodation, vaccinations and resources to take over with her to supply to the communities.
If you want to donate visit her Cambodia oral health education trip GoFund me page.