Melbourne project looking at the oral health of children from migrant backgrounds

24 October 2014

A project looking at the oral health of children from migrant backgrounds found there are many significant barriers for parents accessing mainstream dental services and oral health information.
Teeth Tales is a community-based child oral health project for Australian families from migrant backgrounds.
The families who benefited from this project had children under four years old, from Iraqi, Lebanese or Pakistani backgrounds living in metropolitan Melbourne.
Maryanne Tadic, Manager of the Population Health Unit for lead partner Merri Community Health Services said it is important to develop alternative options for children from migrant families who may have difficulty accessing information and services.
“We know from previous research conducted in Moreland and Hume from 2006 to 2009, that there are different traditions and beliefs about taking care of teeth,” she said.
Lead researcher, Associate Professor Lisa Gibbs from the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health said the aim of the project was to develop more accessible services promoting child oral health that can be reproduced in other culturally diverse local government areas in Australia.
“International research shows that people from migrant backgrounds are at risk of poor oral health. This raised concerns for the oral health of local children from refugee and migrant backgrounds,” she said.
More than 650 children from these communities received dental screenings. One hundred fifty-one families also attended a local oral health education course led by a trained leader from their cultural group. The course consisted of six hours of oral health education over two weeks, and a site visit to the local community health dental service the following week.
Ms Tadic said that working in partnership with established cultural organisations is critical to health promotion initiatives for families with migrant and refugee backgrounds.
The discussion of traditional oral health practices needs to be incorporated into oral health promotion initiatives.
“Study designs need to include the spread of cultural networks. ‘Teeth Tales’ findings are now directly informing Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) child oral health clinical guidelines,” Associate Professor Gibbs said.
Early results indicate the “Teeth Tales” intervention is promising in terms of increasing tooth brushing frequency and some measures of parental oral health knowledge.

University of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

The Melbourne School of Population and Global Health aims to strengthen the understanding, capacity and services of society to meet population health needs and to improve the quality and equity of health care.
The population health approach recognizes that health is a capacity or resource rather than a state, a definition which corresponds more to the notion of being able to pursue one’s goals, to acquire skills and education, and to grow.
This broader notion of health recognizes the range of social, economic and physical environmental factors that contribute to health (Public Health Agency of Canada).
Program: Master of Public Health
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Semester intake: February/March
Duration: 1.5 – 2 years (depending on background of candidate)
Application deadline: While there is no set application deadline for this public health program, applicants are strongly encouraged by the University of Melbourne to submit their applications a minimum of three months prior to the program’s start date.
Entry Requirements: To be eligible to apply, you must have an undergraduate degree in any discipline; or at least 200 points of tertiary study (equal to two full-time years of study) in any discipline and at least five years of documented relevant health-related experience.

Apply to the University of Melbourne Public Health School!

Find out more about public health degrees available at the University of Melbourne. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools Admissions Officer Rachel Brady by emailing or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.


Dentistry at the University of Melbourne Dental School

Interested in dentistry? The Melbourne Dental School offers the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), which incorporates all aspects related to the provision of advanced general dental care to patients as well as teaches students to prepare, develop, execute and write for publication a small research project.
This dentistry course commences with the introduction of specialized oral health subjects to allow students to enter the clinic as quickly as possible to maximize the experience in all aspects and phases of clinical treatment.
The final year of the dental course is comprised of one year-long subject in which the students will spend 40 weeks in clinical settings including the planned University of Melbourne private dental clinic, community health centres and rural community clinics which will include provision of oral health care to the aboriginal community. In addition, students will learn how to run a private dental practice based on a small-business model.

Would you like more information about the Melbourne DDS and about studying dentistry in Australia? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Dental Schools Admissions Officer Adam Smith to answer any questions you may have regarding dentistry school in Australia. Email Adam at or call 1-866-698-7355.