Retired dentist Dr. Richard Slattery from Perth has taken on a noble cause by providing free dental services to people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction at a not-for-profit rehabilitation center. Dr. Slattery has witnessed the detrimental impact of drug use on dental hygiene and teeth, particularly with substances like methamphetamine that can cause severe decay and erosion.
The initiative, which started in June 2022 at St Patrick’s Community Support Centre in Fremantle, aims to help individuals on their journey to recovery by boosting their confidence through improved dental health. Many recovering addicts face chronic dental issues due to addiction, and for some, it becomes a barrier to rebuilding their lives and seeking employment.
Dr. Slattery’s pro bono work has already assisted 45 individuals, and an evaluation by Notre Dame University revealed that 77% of participants felt embarrassed or self-conscious about their teeth and mouth appearance, while 61% experienced pain or discomfort. Thanks to Dr. Slattery’s efforts, many participants have gained a newfound sense of self-esteem and optimism for their future.
Access to affordable dental care remains a challenge for those without private health coverage. Dr. Slattery acknowledges that government and university dental services often have long waiting times, making it difficult for people to access essential dental treatments.
For Dr. Slattery, witnessing the transformative power of his work is the most rewarding aspect. Seeing individuals walk out of his clinic with newfound smiles after years of dental issues gives him a sense of fulfillment and motivation to continue contributing positively to their recovery journey.
This heartwarming initiative reminds us of the vital role dental professionals can play in improving lives and supporting communities in need.