When Global Dental Relief first began working in Nepal in 2001, its founders envisioned bringing dental care to people in less fortunate countries. That vision was quickly refined to focus specifically on children. Here’s why:
1. Educational impact. We are able to educate and instill oral health awareness and habits in children before decay sets in. Each time a child enters a GDR clinic, they learn why to brush, how to brush and the effects that diet has on their teeth. They hear this message again and again. They then pass their knowledge to their parents, siblings and friends.
2. We start treating kids at age six before extensive dental decay has had time to develop in permanent teeth. By reaching kids young we can arrest decay when it first starts. Children are tracked by school and they return to GDR clinics every two years to receive long-term continuous care.
Over the course of 16 years, GDR volunteers have provided complete dental care to 135,000 children in five countries. The donated value of care exceeds 30 million. Each child receives an exam, a cleaning, and any fillings or extractions they may need. They receive a toothbrush and a fluoride varnish treatment.
Here’s a snapshot of a day in the life of the children at our clinic:
1. Children arrive in groups with other students from their school. First, they each receive brand new toothbrush. Some of these children have never seen a toothbrush before. Volunteers work with kids to teach them how to brush and about nutrition and the effects that sugar has on their teeth.
2. Once inside the clinic, each child receives a full exam
3. If a cavity or other dental issue is detected, dentists and hygienists offer treatment immediately. If further treatment is needed children return to the clinic two or three times over the course of the week until all care is completed.
4. Each child receives an application of fluoride varnish to help strengthen their tooth enamel.
The clinic is bustling with children and volunteers. There are glimpses of awe and trepidation, but what is remembered by all are the moments of connection as volunteers and children reach across cultures.
Time and again, we see this model work. Children return to our clinic with healthier teeth, and stronger oral hygiene habits. Good oral health leads to better overall physical health, and their newfound knowledge touches their families and friends.
Whether you are a dentist, hygienist, dental assistant, or a non-dental volunteer, the magic of this organization comes from your dedication to making a difference. Would you like to join us? email [email protected], call us at 303.858.8857, or register by visiting our registry page.