A new dental clinic in Newcastle, New South Wales, will play a role in closing the gap in dental health for local Indigenous communities.

Awabakal Aboriginal Medical Service in the Hunter region opened the new dental clinic on Wednesday in partnership with New South Wales Health.

The Awabakal Dental Clinic, which received $394,000 funding from New South Wales Ministry of Health, provides bulk-billed dental services to the Aboriginal community.

Previously the clinic was just two chairs operating out of a small section of the Awabakal Hamilton Medical Centre.

The wait-list for treatment had reached three months and preventative oral health was suffering.

The new custom-built facility, including an extra chair, was designed specifically to meet the demand of the local oral health needs.

The 2019 Australian Medical Association’s report card on Indigenous health found an unacceptable state of oral health among the Indigenous community.

The report found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and children have dental disease at two or three times the rate of their non-Indigenous counterparts, were five times more likely to have missing teeth, and were less likely to seek out dental care.

Awabakal chief executive Raylene Gordon said she was delighted with the new clinic.

“Dental health can expensive and inaccessible,” she said.

“If you don’t have healthy teeth, you can’t always eat healthy foods.

“The condition of your teeth is directly related to your overall health.”

The partnership between local AMS Awabakal and Hunter New England Health has also resulted in a number of career pathways for young Indigenous people, creating much-needed job opportunities in the health industry.

“We currently have two Aboriginal Dental Assistants working in the team with HNE’s dentists, and we can see the potential for even more training and career opportunities for our young people,” Ms Gordon said.

The AMA report found there were fewer than 100 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander dental practitioners in the country in 2019.