On January 7th and 8th 2015,Ana Nortje RDH, Director of Developing Smiles lead a team that distributed tooth brushes and toothpaste to elementary school age children in a rural community of Elandshoek, South Africa. This was the first project for Developing Smiles The Woodlands, Texas based nonprofit organization, who’s mission is to teach elementary school age children in rural Southern Africa importance of oral health and proper nutrition to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
With the generous donations and contributions from parents in Sterling Ridge Primrose School, the Henry Schein Foundation, and many individuals the project benefited 210 children and their families.
Access to toothbrush and toothpaste are essential elements for healthy body, elements often overlooked in nations in which these needs are readily met. In Elandshoek these items are considered luxury as many families are not able to afford them. Although children were very excited to learn about care for their teeth and receive a new toothbrush, we believe that the most impact we had is with parents. We spend great deal of time speaking with parents about the impact of parental beliefs and attitude about tooth brushing and sugar snacking on their children’s oral health.
Developing Smiles will strive to assist under-served communities in rural Africa and make proper oral health and nutrition a priority for both children and their parents. Learning how to care for you teeth and having the tools to do it will reduce the incidence of cavities and pain associated with cavities. It is expected that these programs will contribute to an improvement in students overall health allowing them to focus on their education.