'Teeth are always in style'
There are a few professions which illicit a fairly uniform response. When meeting a body language expert the majority of us would uncross our arms/legs and maintain eye contact. And when you meet a Dental Hygienist, you stop smiling or force a closed lip smirk.
I met Kate, a Dental Hygienist, when two of our children were at nursery together. Kate has been a fabulous supporter of me and everything I've been involved in since we met, often through using her creative skills while enthusiastically embracing a budget of approximately zero! When I asked her if she could choose a charity for me to support as part of the Fortycubed challenge she immediately thought of raising funds and awareness for oral health.
Dentaid - Equip, Treat, Educate, Train
The UK charity Hope Now saw a need for a dental charity after being approached by a prison governor in Ukraine regarding the dental needs of inmates. A local dentist had agreed to come to the prison if they could set up a surgery there. A UK dentist who was upgrading his surgery donated his old equipment and the clinic was a great success. Dentaid was formed in response in 1996.
Dentaid takes a four fold approach to improving oral health both in the UK and abroad.
- Sends reconditioned donated dental equipment and portable dental surgeries to projects in many different countries.
- Sends teams of volunteer dental professionals from the UK to countries where there is a real shortage of dental care. The volunteers run clinics and outreach programmes in refugee camps, remote villages, schools, prisons, orphanages and community buildings.
- Runs toothbrushing programmes and oral health lessons in nurseries, schools and community buildings in the UK and overseas.
- Works alongside in-country dentists to share expertise and promote best practice. Dentaid provides training for dental students, opportunities for dental graduates and ongoing support for dentists around the world. In the UK Dentaid offers opportunities for Foundation Dentists to volunteer under supervision on our mobile dental unit so they can develop their skills in a community outreach clinic.
But we have NHS dentists in the UK?
Dentaid has identified that many people in the UK find it difficult to access dental treatment. Many homeless and vulnerable people are not registered with a practice and don’t know what to do when dental problems arise. In some parts of the country there are long waiting lists to register with an NHS dentist. Dentaid’s mobile dental unit visits homeless shelters, day centres and community buildings providing free emergency treatment for people in pain.
It is easy to dismiss the importance of teeth until something goes wrong with them and as George Bernard Shaw said, 'To a person with toothache, even if the world is tottering, there is nothing more important than a visit to the dentist'.
If you would like to support Dentaid as part of the fortycubed challenge please click here.