All smiles as Griffith Dental clinic reaches milestone

Gwen Bliesner, who became the 100,000th registered patient at Griffith Dental Clinic in June 2020.

Gwen Bliesner certainly wasn’t smiling when she first visited the Griffith Dental Clinic a few months ago but now she can’t stop.

In her 60’s, Gwen’s painful emergency case also served as a milestone for the clinic, becoming their 100,000th registered patient.

Dr Mahmoud Bakr, Director of Clinical Education (Dentistry) said Griffith Dental Clinic’s dentists and dental students perform around 50,000 occasions of care every year, with many patients coming for return visits, and it was heartwarming to know they’d helped so many people.

Dr Mahmoud Bakr

“Gwen was initially seen by fifth year students as that’s where all the emergencies go,” Mahmoud said.

“They are graduating in a few months so they can deal with something that is unknown, like in real life, and from there she was referred to our Post graduate students who are already registered dentists and doing a specialty program.”

In extreme pain when she presented to the clinic for her first visit in June, Gwen admitted she didn’t have any trepidation about it.

“I never had a fear of dentists but my teeth were not in the best condition,” she explained.

Gwen as a young child

“I ate many lollies as a child, that’s how it was.

“When you’re in primary school you’re allowed to have a little bit of money and in those days you went across to the shop and they handed you out in a little paper packet and I’d buy three columbines because I liked the sticky, chewy, hard centres.”

She’s due back shortly for a third visit and a root canal, incredibly grateful that student clinic services are free for Queensland Health eligible patients.

“I felt like an old horse, because my teeth were wearing and I hadn’t had the money to get them attended to, with one tooth that was so bad it ended up breaking,” Gwen said.

“I live at Southport so I’ve known about the clinic but I didn’t really ever think I was eligible, not long coming into a pension.

“They’re all so awesome, they really are. Gosh I cannot speak more highly of the whole place.”

Dr Bakr said Gwen’s comments were welcome feedback, agreeing that dentistry had the power to really impact people’s lives.

“Oral health is the mirror for general health and improving one’s dental condition or oral hygiene could actually have a positive influence / impact on people’s general health as there is evidence-based research about the link between oral disease and cardio vascular disease, or even diabetes,” he said.

“Besides that it does actually improve people’s appearance, aesthetics and self-confidence.”

Griffith Dental Clinic operates Monday to Friday at the University’s Southport campus and even at the height of the pandemic in South East Queensland, remained open for emergency cases.