As part of its mission to improve dental access in underserved communities, Kool Smiles, a leading provider of quality dental care for children and families in the United States, donated more than 400 dental kits to nursery and primary school students in Haimaracabra, a small indigenous village in Guyana with extremely limited access to dental care.
volunteers then delivered the dental supplies and demonstrated proper oral hygiene practices to the students.
"Due to transportation access challenges, Haimaracabra suffers from a lack of supplies and resources in education and healthcare," said Holleigh Thomason, the Peace Corps volunteer leading the effort in Guyana, a nation located on the northeastern coast of South America. "To see a dentist, one would have to travel two hours by boat to the nearest town, which is expensive and time-consuming. Many of our community members don't see a dentist unless they have a dental emergency, such as an infected tooth that needs to be removed.
"Premature tooth decay is widespread in this region, especially among children, but some people don't even have toothbrushes. Tooth cleanings and fillings are luxuries unknown to my community. We want to focus on prevention rather than intervention. And thanks to Kool Smiles' donation, we were able to do exactly that."
Thomason, with the help a local Medex (or nurse practitioner), organized a dental health fair at a community health center and conducted health education sessions in Haimaracabra's nursery and primary schools. Through creative instruction, such as the use of music, Peace Corps members promoted healthy dental practices, such as brushing your teeth, cleaning your toothbrush and flossing. As part of the outreach, each student received much-needed dental kits, which included toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss.
"At Kool Smiles, we work each day to promote good dental health here in America, especially among traditionally underserved communities," said Dr. D Ray Gifford, managing dental director at Kool Smiles. "However, we also recognize that dental health needs extend far past our borders here in the U.S. We are very grateful to the Peace Corps for providing dental health education and supplies in Guyana and throughout the world."
"While often overlooked, good oral health is critical to a child's overall health, as tooth decay can lead to malnutrition, life-threatening infections, poor school performance, and reluctance to speak, smile and play. Moving forward, the promotion of healthy smiles, especially among children, should serve as a principal public health goal in the U.S. and abroad. Through collective action, we can truly make a difference."
The dental kit donation was made possible by a sponsorship from the Benevis Foundation.