A shout out to ALL HEALTH STUDENTS!! Oral health essay competition!!

The Public Health Association of Australia has provided a platform for health students from ALL DISCIPLINES to connect with oral health: the PHAA Oral Health Special Interest Group and Colgate-Palmolive Student Essay Competition.

The competition is designed to encourage students from all human health disciplines to challenge themselves and link their area of interest within health to oral health. Importantly, the competition is open to current full-time, part-time, undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled in an Australian University, located within Australia. Not to mention there is a pretty wicked prize on offer…


In 2012, Catherine Evans, a third year nursing and paramedicine student from the Australian Catholic University in Ballarat, won the competition. Catherine wrote her essay on the links between oral health and diabetes. Her motivation for entering?

“I realised that there was a gap in my knowledge about the links between oral health and diabetes. My younger brother was recently diagnosed with diabetes mellitus and I wanted to explore the link with the hope to offer him and future clients current, evidence based advice”.

So give it a go, live on the incisal edge and accept our challenge! Explore how your area of health links with oral health and enter the competition:



So how did My Health Career find out about this essay competition? From none other than Rebecca Heron-Dowling….


Rebecca Heron-Dowling manages Dental Paediatrix, a paediatric specialist dental surgery located in Bondi Junction, Sydney. She is a Master of International Health Management student at the University of New England, Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) NSW Branch Treasurer, PHAA Oral Health Special Interest Group Student Representative (NSW) and a member of the Australasian College of Health Service Management. She is also very closely related to Dental Paediatrix’s Patron: Ophelia Tooth, Tooth Fairy.


Here’s what Rebecca has to say about her experience in the field of oral health….


“Conversations can be really predictable sometimes. I meet someone new, am asked I do and nine times out of ten? Cue the response: “I hate going to the dentist!” This is usually accompanied with a look that – well if you imagine telling a child that their school holidays have been cancelled, it would be pretty close. In reality, working with children in oral health care is pretty awesome. Not only do I get to meet infants that can negotiate their way around an iPhone better than most adults, I get to keep up with the latest ‘Dora the Explorer’ and ‘Ben Ten’ trends.

Trends aside, there is a serious side to the work we do. Our mission? To create confidental kids and be our community’s dental home. It is this mission that has seen Dental Paediatrix provide ongoing educational dental talks to our local community centre, a local special needs school and childcare centres throughout the city. The pursuit of education is fundamental to Dental Paediatrix’s ethos. This is mostly due to my wonderful employers, Richard Widmer and Anna Sanares-Brissett. You see, whilst I manage Richard and Anna’s private rooms they are also dedicated public health clinicians and university lecturers. They are very generous with sharing their knowledge and very supportive of my own educational pursuits. They inspired me to join the PHAA.

Throughout my career I have experienced a number of light-bulb moments:

  • When starting out as a dental assistant, I worked with a dentist to fit full upper and lower dentures (fake teeth) for 30 year old patient who had lost her teeth through decay.
  • Although I might not be smart enough to find a cure for HIV/AIDS, I understood that maybe one day I could help people keep their teeth.
  • I started working at Dental Paediatrix and learnt that illness can manifest in the mouth first, such as some thyroid conditions and neurological disorders
  • Oral health is integral to whole health (there is more to teeth than just toothpaste)
  • I became a student again
  • Joined the PHAA
  • Realised I wanted to have more opportunities as a student
  • Realised I wanted to do more for oral health promotion
  • Discovered that oral health education does not generally extend beyond the oral health/dental student domain


Final thoughts:

  •  Team work makes the dream work,


  •  Flossing is your friend!


Rebecca Heron-Dowling”



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