Pearly Whites Bring a Smile to the Elderly





North Richmond Community Health Centre’s Pearly Whites is a free aged care dental outreach program that has been operating for over seven years. They provide oral health check-ups and information to aged care facilities within the Inner North West Melbourne Medicare Local catchment.
In 2018, five hundred aged care facility residents were seen with over 25% requiring treatment and 40% needing professional teeth cleaning. Unfortunately, statistics show that very few vulnerable residents attend either a private or a community dentist, so Balwyn Rotary stepped in to assist with a solution.
Through significant club funding, a comprehensive range of dental equipment has been purchased so that portable equipment can be set up within aged care facilities to provide dental treatment on-site. The treatment is aimed at providing comfort and function, rather than ‘extravagant’ outcomes. It is an essential service to minimise avoidable health issues, such as aspirational pneumonia, by removing the infection associated with the bacteria clinging to the calculus build-up on teeth. There is also an emphasis on prevention of dental disease by specifically trained North Richmond staff educating the facility staff in necessary oral hygiene procedures. In reality, many residents do not even clean their teeth for weeks at a time.
Associate Professor Rachel Martin, who is now Head of the Department of Oral Health & Dentistry at Latrobe University Dental School in Bendigo, designed the Pearly Whites program. She is now setting up a partnership between the Dental School and North Richmond to involve senior students so that they gain supervised practical experience.
Balwyn Rotary has had fruitful discussions about this program with the Minister for Ageing, Luke Donnellan. He has remarked that this is a wonderful Rotary project that provides an essential service, not only to elderly Melburnians, but could be scaled up across Victoria and subsequently Australia-wide. Additionally, students in regional Victoria will be exposed to practical dental skills, as well as culturally and socially diverse communities to promote equity, health & wellbeing.
Balwyn Rotary members Drs Jim Cary and Brian McGuinness both volunteer dental services at North Richmond Community Health Centre.
If any club would like to know how to become involved in this project that can be extended to other aged care facilities, please contact Dr Brian McGuinness at

More News...
  • Transforming Nature Strips in Boroondara
    Transforming Nature Strips in Boroondara

    Transforming nature strips with indigenous plants not only beautifies the area but also supports local wildlife and promotes biodiversity. How can property owners in Boroondara get involved with this project? READ MORE  

  • Centenary Grant – Project Rainbow
    Centenary Grant – Project Rainbow

    ROTARY CLUB OF ESSENDON - $50,000 GRANT RECEIVED FROM ROTARY CLUB OF BALWYN CENTENARY GRANTS TO SUPPORT BAHAY TULUYAN - PHILIPPINES Project Rainbow - Creating a Place of Healing for Child Survivors of Trauma is an exciting project that will be implemented by funding received from Rotary Club of Balwyn Centenary Grants supported by Rotary Clubs of Essendon and Leeton Central, in partnership with Filipino children’s rights organization, Bahay Tuluyan in a rural community in Batangas, Philippines. Rates of abuse and trauma for children in the Philippines are very high and the support available for their recovery is sparse. In a national survey conducted by UNICEF in 2015 it was found that 80% of Filipino children had experienced some form of violence in their lifetime. The impact of 2 years of pandemic lockdowns has compounded these rates of abuse. At the same time there are very limited services available to help Filipino children recover from and cope with trauma. Unresolved trauma has lifelong consequences on health, employment and wellbeing and often entrenches poverty across generations. (more…)

  • Grants Awarded September 2022
    Grants Awarded September 2022

    The second round of Balwyn Centenary Grants for 2022 has been announced. Rotary’s theme for this year is Imagine and it was very easy to imagine the difference that these small projects can make in a wide variety of countries within our region. These include: • Philippines refurbishment of a place of healing for child survivors of trauma • Congo construction & operation of a community hub in Lotumbe • Nepal Community Hospital Operating theatre in Dudhkoski • Bali Clean water project providing rainwater tanks in Kayu wit village • India Dairy program for the empowerment of women in MaduraiThe last project involves the introduction of a teenage • Mental Health First Aid course at a bayside Melbourne college in 2023. This project tackles the difficult issue of mental health and is targeted at teenagers in Years 9 & 10 and is very relevant post-COVID pandemic. Philippines RC Essendon – Leeton Central $50,000 Project to refurbish and equip an existing house as a place of healing for child survivors of trauma in a semi-rural area two hours from Manila.- these children have experienced abuse, violence & neglect in their short lives. A well-regarded third-party child’s rights organisation, Bahay Tuluyan, were gifted this house by a former street kid and will contribute $30,000 to the project. The project will be developed in stages and will be operational after stage one and fully operational after stage three. There will be a level of sustainability as produce will be grown and sold at markets and Bahay Tuluyan will maintain the property. Congo eClub of Greater Sydney $33,264 Project is construct and operate a community hub in Lotumbe, Democratic Republic of Congo. The hub will be a meeting space, an office space, a training space, a library, a community store and safe storage for a range of villager’s tools. It is obviously a much-needed community facility in Lotumbe. The community is remote and is only accessible by canoe and /or forest paths and up to 6,000 are likely to benefit from the creation of this hub. A third-party organisation called HandUp Congo is involved. This is a RAWCS project no 20 in 2013-14 Nepal RC Albury $10,000 Project is to complete the fit-out of the operating theatre in newly built hospital in Dudhkoshi which is in a remote area of Nepal and has no existing facilities. This activity will be managed by the RC Kathmandu who have been involved in several projects improving health facilities throughout Nepal. The funding request will supplement existing funds from the following Rotary clubs - Kathmandu, Albury, Katherine and South Wagga. Bali RC Seaford South Aust $10,080 Project to provide clean water to the Kayu Wit village in East Bali by supplying 56 rainwater tanks to 56 families living in the village. Access to clean water will have significant community benefits with health and the village economy. The project will be driven by local Rotary club Ubud Sunset and they will be involved with the installation and ongoing maintenance as they have done in a previous project. India RC Willetton, Western Australia $15,873 Project to empower 50 women from under-privileged families in Madurai in the southern part of India by giving them two cows – one pregnant and the other used in milk production. It will help poverty in the region and the milk supply will improve the health of the families. Aim to make the project self-sufficient by the sale of milk and heifers and using the proceeds to fund the next stage of the project. The project will be managed by RC Madurai and RC Willetton will supply veterinary assistance. The funding requested is part of wide-ranging group of supporting Rotary clubs and districts and our request represents 10%. They are also applying for a Global Grant. Local RC Brighton North $14,400 Project will provide Teen Mental Health First Aid training to 300 high school students in years 9 and 10 in 2023 at Sandringham College. The training is provided in conjunction with Youth Mental Health First Aid and the cost of the trainers represents over 80% of the project’s budget. This third-party has been in operation for over twenty years and has provided this training to four other schools in the past (part funded by Rotary and local councils). Rotary has formed a partnership with YMHFA and their programs have spread to 24 countries around the world.