Dentist inviting potential patients for drink at pub to ease fear

Going to the dentist would be a lot less scary if you had previously met and had a drink with them.

That’s the idea behind dentist Amelia Judson’s Medics at the Pub.

The 22-year-old was one of the winners of the ABC’s Heywire program. For a week she attended the ABC Heywire Regional Youth Summit to help develop her project proposal and receive leadership training.

Dr Judson’s proposal is for medical health professionals, including dentists, doctors and physiotherapists, to organise a regular get together in an informal setting.

“My idea is to get the community and the medical professions together so everyone can form a relationship. It's a lot less scary coming into the hospital or into the dental chair when you know the face on the other end and you've had a drink with them or a chat with them in a non-clinical setting,” she said.

It would not only benefit the community by giving them the opportunity to meet their medical professionals and know what services were in the city, it would also give the medical professions themselves the opportunity to get to know one another.

“Personally for me I would be a lot more inclined to pick up the phone and call a GP or a podiatrist or someone like that and have a conversation instead of just sending a referral. [At the moment] you don't really know who's on the other end,” Dr Judson said.

Dr Judson, who recently finished her training in Dubbo, said education was the key to improve the health of residents in rural and regional areas. She has had to teach 60-year-old men how to brush their teeth.

Dentists often discovered other concerns with their patients, Dr Judson said. Medics at the Pub would allow those concerns to be shared, she said.

“People come to me with problems in their mouth but I learn a lot about problems outside of that as well. I wrote my story [for Heywire] about a man who comes and he's been eating a box of Panadol a week for the past six months waiting for us to come along and give him treatment. Because he lives in Brewarrina it's four and a half hours away from the nearest dentist,” Dr Hudson said.

Medics at the Pub would easily work in Dubbo, the dentist said, it could also be adapted to in an isolated community services by the Flying Doctor Service, or somewhere larger like Canberra.

Dr Judson said the ABC Heywire Regional Youth Summit had been the best week of her life. It was inspiring to see the passion of the 40 young people who had attended, she said, and their commitment towards improving the health of regional communities.