The Gracias familyPRINT PAGE
Meet the Gracias family - seven kids who love going to the dentist
Taking care of seven kids may seem like a huge task but Janine Gracias takes it all in her stride.
Her children – Elizabeth (15), Monica (14), Amon (12), Liam (11), Isabella (8), Kieren (5) and Sophia (3) – are her pride and joy and it’s important to her that they receive the best dental care available.
When Elizabeth was in primary school, Janine’s private dentist recommended that she take the kids to the Bentleigh Bayside Community Health (BBCH) dental clinic.
Until then, Janine had no idea that the service existed. “I thought I would come and see what it was like. If it didn’t match up to a private dentist we would find the money and go private.
But it has been the best experience. My kids have gone from hating going to the dentist to saying, "Great we’ve got an appointment next week!
"And these are kids that have had to have a lot of fillings. I’ve been so impressed with the care of the dentists, their professionalism and how gentle they are. I put it down to the fact that because they are working with kids every day they’ve built a strong bond with judging the kids' abilities to cope. I never felt rushed here.
"The staff at the clinic have been able to improve the oral health of the Gracias family by applying fissure seals to some of the children’s teeth.
“The kids have had a lot of preventative care. I think the older kids have more fillings than the younger ones because they didn’t get that preventative care as early on. The kids have also been given dental instruction at the clinic and a little chart to take home.”
The clinic books appointments for the kids in “blocks” with three or four children coming in at one time for their dental check-ups.
Janine says it’s “an enormous help”. In addition to the financial savings of having her children treated in the public system, Janine enjoys the atmosphere at the clinic. “It’s a happy environment that the kids enjoy coming to. That’s a huge bonus. It would be hard to drag seven unwilling kids to the dentist, but I have happy children coming to the dentist. They love Donna! And Mark used to come in and mess up the kids names and say, "Hello Charlie".
The kids are put at ease straight away so it’s not traumatic. I had a very traumatic experience with dentists when I was young and I didn’t want that for the kids.
“It’s also an enormous financial saving for us. So much so, that I often wonder if I would have been as vigilant looking after their teeth if I had to go to a private dentist. It might have been a case of, well I’ve got this bill so I can’t afford the dentist just yet, I’ll push it off for a few months. I think it’s helped me keep a better check on the kids looking after their teeth and their health.
“I always recommend the service and I am always telling people to try it out, it’s a wonderful service.”