About Us

A/Professor Janet Wallace has been working in this area of oral health care since 2010 when she started her PhD entitled, the ‘Development of a Service-Learning Model of Health Promotion in the Residential Aged Care Environment for Dental Hygiene Students’, awarded in 2013, this original work has developed into the translational research program known as ‘Senior Smiles’ a preventive oral health care program for older people living in residential aged care facilities (RACF).

A pilot program in 2014, placed a qualified dental hygienist into 5 Residential Aged Care Facilities on the NSW Central Coast to test the model of care. Success from the pilot led to phase II of the research commencing in September 2017 completing in September 2020. The research places a qualified oral health practitioner into Residential Aged Care Facilities to provide the elderly residents with oral health education, oral health assessments, oral health care plans and referral pathways to dentists and/or dental prosthetists for more complex dental needs.

The current Senior Smiles team was developed for Stage II of the research which commenced in 2017, headed by A/Prof Janet Wallace, the architect and chief investigator, Mrs. Sarah Griffiths, the Senior Smiles Operations Manager and co-investigator, Dr Kay Franks, co-investigator and Senor Smiles educator, Mrs. Lindy Metcalf, dental hygienist, Mrs. Lindi Saley, dental hygienist and Mr. Baden Hunter, oral health therapist. Supported by Dr Linda Wallace, dental hygienist & lecturer, and Ms. Lexie McLaren, dental therapists, conjoint lecturer, who manage the Aged Care student placement program at the University of Newcastle.

The Senior Smiles team have worked tirelessly to bring attention to the much-needed oral health care for older people living in Residential Aged Care Facilities. Lobbying for national funding; to align oral health care in residential aged care facilities with general health care. The Senior Smiles model of care requires national funding paid directly to the residential aged care facilities to employ oral health therapists/dental hygienists to deliver the Senior Smiles model on-site. This model would link employment of an oral health therapist/dental hygienist with accreditation standards, thus ensuring oral health is managed across all Australian residential aged care facilities in an equitable manner.

The Senior Smiles team believe this model is the only way to manage oral health care in this environment.

Mission Statement

The Senior Smiles mission is to provided effective preventive oral health care for all residents living in Residential Aged Care Facilities in Australia. Oral health must be part of general health care for all residents in this environment.  Senior Smiles makes oral health a priority.


  1. To improve awareness of the importance of oral health care for older people living in residential aged care facilities in Australia
  2. To develop and support the widespread implementation of the Senior Smiles program within residential aged care facilities as the preferred preventive oral health care on-site model of care
  3. To train dental practitioners and residential aged care facility staff to provide appropriate on-site preventive oral health care and timely referrals processes to access complex dental needs
  4. To provide ongoing education for dental practitioners and residential aged care facility staff to ensure appropriate oral health knowledge to improve oral health care in the residential aged care facility environment in Australia
  5. To provide all residential aged care facilities in Australia with links to local community private dental practitioners and public sector dental services to ensure a collaborative approach to improve access for our frail and elderly


  • Undergraduate students for the faculty of Oral Health at the University of Newcastle
  • Qualified dental practitioners, dentists, dental prosthetists, oral health therapists, dental hygienists, dental therapists
  • Residential Aged Care Facility staff, residents, and family members and carers

Click here to read the Impact Case Study

Posted on July 13th, 2020
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