U.S. Peace Corps volunteers delivered dental supplies to nursery and primary school students in South America thanks to a donation from Kool Smiles.
Kool Smiles, a dental care provider for children and adults in the U.S., donated more than 400 dental kits, which was made possible by a sponsorship from the Benevis Foundation. The Peace Corps volunteers then delivered those kits, which included toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss, to Haimaracabra, a small indigenous village in Guyana.
"Due to transportation access challenges, Haimaracabra suffers from a lack of supplies and resources in education and healthcare," stated Holleigh Thomason, the Peace Corps volunteer leading the effort in Guyana, in a press release. "To see a dentist, one would have to travel two hours by boat to the nearest 'town.' ... Many of our community members don't see a dentist unless they have a dental emergency."
Thomason and a local medex, or nurse practitioner, organized a dental health fair at a community health center and conducted health education sessions. They delivered the kits and taught the children about proper oral hygiene through creative instruction, such as the use of music.
"Premature tooth decay is widespread in this region, especially among children, but some people don't even have toothbrushes," Thomason stated. "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."
D Ray Gifford, DDS, managing dental director at Kool Smiles, stressed that oral health is critical to the overall health of children, regardless of whether they are in the U.S. or abroad.
"At Kool Smiles, we work each day to promote good dental health here in America, especially among traditionally underserved communities," he stated in the release. "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."