Allow me first to introduce myself: my name is Natalya Bauman, I've been a Hygienist since 2006 and currently am an incoming third year dental student at Temple University, Kornberg School of Dentistry. The past few years, our students have been fortunate enough to initiate a dental mission trip to an orphanage outside of Lima, Peru. We began research there in 2013 to study, diagnose and document how the lack of general oral hygiene and education effects people, especially children, in this underprivileged area. Many people from this area lack not only access to any oral or health care, but also lack the education concerning the importance and effects that such care can provide. Our research showed that 42% of the children did not even own a toothbrush, let alone know how to use one. We also were able to provide that our brief oral health intervention was effective in significantly changing oral health behaviors among the children one week after our intervention.
After initial screening and diagnosis, students provided free dental care and education to the community there. Over the course of a week in June of 2014, Temple University dental students and faculty were able to provide over $35,000 worth of dental treatment to more than 150 children and adults. Our organization hopes to be able to track our work and progress to document the significance of oral care and education, and continue to visit the orphanage yearly and expand our reach into the surrounding areas. We have created our own nonprofit, “Growing Smiles Foundation,” to continue this work.
Our mission to provide free dental care and education to these children is now the core of our organization. Fundraising is a crucial aspect to the success of our group, as we require a number of materials and supplies. Above all, the use of portable dental units and sterilization equipment are essential to providing care, whilst we also supply various educational material and hygiene products. We will be returning to Peru in July of 2015. No donation is too small, every little bit helps, to let an orphan smile and be out of dental pain.
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