‘Out-bush’ dentist puts smiles on faces

CHECK UP: Shenade Bell working on patient Kaylene Vale.
CHECK UP: Shenade Bell working on patient Kaylene Vale.

A newly graduated Dentist has made the move back to Katherine to gain experience 

Shenade Bell, 23, doesn’t view this small town as an opportunity to get ahead and get out, with less competition than larger cities. 

But it is an opportunity to see rarer diseases, help people in need and learn from well trained mentor and owner of Carusi Dental, Katherine, Mario Carusi. 

“I am most passionate about smiles and giving people their dream smile,” Ms Bell said. 

Growing up in remote Indigenous communities around the Katherine region with her parents as teachers, Ms Bell was largely responsible for her own learning. 

“I grew up fishing and hunting, I did the lot,” she said. 

A national oral health report card, Australia's Oral Health Tracker, shows 90 per cent of Australians have experienced tooth decay.

A national oral health report card, Australia's Oral Health Tracker, shows 90 per cent of Australians have experienced tooth decay.

“It made me very ‘out-bush’, very familiar with the land, resilient. 

“Things were not always easy. It definitely opened my eyes to what it is like to live in a remote community. 

“It made me want to be able to help.

It is a hand craft, dentistry, backed up by science.

Shenade Bell

“I had to be dedicated with school, I was responsible for my own learning and I was quite driven because I knew I wanted to be a dentist.” 

Coming back to Katherine was an easy decision. 

In a town where dentists have been given Fs on the Small Towns Report Card as recently as December last year, experienced practitioners are in need. 

Following years of dedicated study at James Cook University in Far North Queensland, Ms Bell was eager to be in the Territory again. 

“I was very lucky Mario was looking for someone to work,” she said. 

“I knew this gentleman was going to be a fantastic person to work for. 

“But it was mainly my family and the Katherine community that I missed. 

Since touching down in the Top End in March of this year, Ms Bell said every day has been a learning experience. 

“When you’ve done your study and you are through the supervising stage, it is experiences that are going to bring extra benefit to my patients,” Ms Bell said. 

“I am constantly looking into new techniques. 

“It is a hand craft, dentistry, backed up by science. 

Ms Bell said she would one day like to work in Indigenous communities to ensure there is a focus is on oral health. 

“I feel like there is such a high need of preventative measures. 

“There is a lot we can do to help more people, and relationship building is key. 

“Not enough people value dental hygiene, and I think it is important to ensure the general population and especially low income earners have better access to health services.” 

With Ms Bell’s family living in Katherine and her sister a new mum, she is looking forward to putting down roots. 

“I can’t see forever into the future, but I want to stay,” she said. 

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