Dental vans giving Orbost kids something to smile about

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Dental therapist Andrea Riccioni who first visited Orbost North Primary School 40 years ago as a fresh graduate has returned to the school to deliver free dental care and education to a new generation with Smile Squad.

“I’m now treating the grandchildren of some of the students I treated back in the 1980s,” Ms Riccioni said.

“Smile Squad allows us to reach children who are most in need, effecting real change and supporting families and wider communities to improve and maintain their oral health, every day.”

Now a Smile Squad lead dental therapist, Ms Riccioni has committed her life to helping people and improving public health outcomes through teaching and delivering oral health education in schools across Victoria.

“I have a strong dedication to the old school dental program and am delighted Smile Squad is now delivering the same vital service to schools. I love being able to move around the state, meeting new people, revisiting favourite places, and discovering new ones.”

Dental conditions are the highest single cause of preventable hospitalisations for kids under 10 in Victoria. Tooth decay is over five times more prevalent than asthma among children.

Smile Squad is funded by the Victorian Government and delivered by Dental Health Services Victoria and community dental agencies. The program offers students in government schools free check-ups and treatment – including teeth cleaning, fluoride application, fissure sealants, fillings and root canals – setting them up for a life of healthy smiles.

Prevention is the best medicine, which is why Smile Squad encourages all Victorian children and their families to keep looking after their oral health by eating well, drinking tap water, and brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.

Smile Squad has already provided more than 90,000 individual appointments and handed out more than 350,000 oral health packs.

The Victorian Government is currently recruiting more dental assistants through the Dental Assisting Traineeship Program – a Dental Health Services Victoria and Jobs Victoria partnership.

The program is supporting trainees with mentoring and supervision to undertake the Certificate III in Dental Assisting. The program supports people who face barriers joining the labour market and gives them the opportunity to ‘earn and learn’ for 12 months which sets them up for a long-term career in the sector.

Trainees are learning skills that lead to many career opportunities including working with the Smile Squad program. To learn more or apply, visit