A retired dentist in Australia is using his skills to help former addicts gain the ability to smile again.
Dr Richard Slattery, a retired Perth dentist, is positively using his lifetime of dentistry experience to help people gain confidence so that they can get back on their feet and move forward with their lives.
Dr Slattery has generously decided to use his time to provide clients in the Palmerston drug and alcohol treatment programme with access to quality dental work, absolutely free of charge.
This initiative provides people who were previously embarrassed about their teeth with a renewed outlook on life and a smile to be proud of.
Palmerston drug and alcohol treatment programme – helping people to overcome their problems
The Palmerston drug and alcohol treatment programme started in 2022 in Fremantle, Western Australia, and now prides itself on offering a free dental clinic for all those experiencing homelessness and those who happen to be low-income earners.
Almost 50 people have used the service so far, and according to an evaluation of the service by Notre Dame University, 77% of those involved in the programme previously felt self-conscious or embarrassed by their appearance, while 61% experienced discomfort or pain.
Dr Richard Slattery explained the importance of dental health not just physically but mentally, “It sounds like it’s just for important things like job interviews, but it’s really for living your life.”
Methamphetamines and ecstasy – can have a debilitating effect on dental health
A recent article by the ABC highlighted the importance of Dr Slattery’s work, explaining that drugs such as methamphetamines and ecstasy can have an extremely debilitating effect on people’s dental health by encouraging teeth grinding and aiding tooth decay.
“Methamphetamine is very acidic. We see a lot of decay, particularly up around the gum level; it can chew right through the teeth,” he explained.
“Most of the addictive drugs do have effects one way or the other, like decaying, and often it’s very difficult to save what’s left. With ecstasy, you’re grinding your teeth, and you can grind right through your teeth”.
Dr Richard Slattery – a generous retired dentist
Dr Slattery takes great pride in his vocation and described the rewarding experience of his work with the Palmerston drug and alcohol treatment programme.
“I’ve learned that these people are all making a big step […] to drag themselves out of addiction, alcohol, and drugs,” he said. “So when you see people who have come in with no teeth at all for years, and then they walk out with a smile, it gives you goosebumps.
“What more could you ask from a professional job than to be able to do that for people?”