Brisbane dentist makes annual trip to East Timor to help children in need

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A dentist from Brisbane has taken it upon himself to visit East Timor every year to help children who have very limited access to dental care.

Malcolm Campbell has recently returned from his fifth trip to the country, after deciding to visit annually from 2013. Dr Campbell made the decision to travel once a year after seeing the shocking state of children’s teeth in region. Children don’t have access to routine dental care, and often, they put up with severe dental pain for months.

Once a year, every year, Malcom now loads up a truck full of supplies, and with the help of a team of volunteers, he travels through the country, stopping off to provide dental care for children living in poverty, many of whom have been orphaned as a result of widespread health issues or war.

Dr Campbell described standards of oral health as “absolutely shocking” and said that it feels like the right thing to do to offer his time and skills to help people who have very little. According to the World Health Organisation, children aged 12 should have no more than three missing, decayed or filled teeth, but the team in east Timor saw kids with up to 20 rotten teeth. Dr Campbell started out as a primary school dentist, but said that he never witnessed anything as sad and severe as the state of children’s teeth in Timor.

The country has just 10 dentists, which equates to a ratio of one dentist to every 120,000 people. In Australia, the figure is much higher at 57 dentists per 100,000 patients.

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