Save Their Smiles Programs
Our goal is to improve long-term health by instituting a culture of dental care. At this point in time, almost no one in the community brushes their teeth, so we need to create healthy habits which will be passed from generation to generation. For this reason, we created two programs, one which educates parents, and a second which educates school age children.
From the First Tooth, a community volunteer-led program, teaches the parents of children 0-4 years of age about the importance of dental health and gives them the skills they need to help prevent dental decay. Each child receives a toothbrush and fluoride application at regularly scheduled health check-ups and volunteers maintain a dental record which becomes part of the child’s medical record.
Brush at School is a school-based program led by two local men who are called “Program promoters.” These men, along with a nurse who runs the already existing community health program, provide dental health education to school children ages 4-17 year of age. In addition, they distribute one toothbrush per child per year, apply fluoride quarterly, and gather metrics evaluating program efficacy. Children are led in 2 minutes of tooth-brushing each day by their teacher to establish the habit of brushing, and students contribute 5 cents each quarter to provide toothpaste for the classroom. This program also includes training about general hygiene (children wash hands before they brush) and provides access to “Save Their Smiles Traveling Dental Health Library,” which contains many children’s books about dental issues.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Save Their Smiles has accomplished so much in the short period of time since its inception:
- 110 toothbrush racks were built (8500 holes were hand-augured!) for classroom use.
- 7000 school-age children have received toothbrushes and quarterly dental health education.
- Approximately 500 children 0-4 years of age have received a toothbrush and fluoride applications.
- On the ground training has been provided for community health volunteers and for teachers on an alternating every 6 month schedule.
- A book was written and illustrated with photos of local children to help provide them with more relevant and accessible information about healthy dental and health habits.
- A dental health day, which will to gather all volunteers for a 6 hour day of dental education, has been created and will be delivered at the upcoming mission scheduled for July, 2011.
- A website and video was created in an effort to raise program visibility and fundraise.