25 years of Healthy Teeth with Project Smile
A dental initiative for Anglican primary schools in Belize City has students motivated to smile and show off their clean, pearly whites. Project Smile is a dental program of the Episcopal Church of Savannah, Georgia that sees hundreds of students on an annual basis benefit from professional dentition. News Five’s Duane Moody reports on the program that has been in existence for the past twenty-five years.
Duane Moody, Reporting
Over the past four days, a mission has been in Belize providing dental care to hundreds of students from Anglican primary schools in Belize City. Project Smile is a collaborative venture between the Anglican Diocese and the Episcopal Church of Savannah, Georgia, U.S.A. In its twenty-fifth anniversary, the purpose is to promote better practices when it comes to taking care of their teeth.
Carolyn Arnold, Local Coordinator, Project Smile
“All the Anglican Schools in the City: Saint Mary’s, All Saints, St. John’s and Queen Square. But at times we also lend a helping hand to others. At one time, we did it for Stella Maris. It is to help them to have their teeth for life. So they start to come and do the cleaning, show them how to brush. When they have their permanents, we seal them and continue seeing them to make sure that they continue to do what we asked. We do a fluoride at all these schools within the city, once a week. So they are given fluorides, they are given tooth brushes, they are given tooth paste and so we ask them to brush every afternoon after lunch. So at least we are making sure that they brush for at least once a day.”
Leading the thirteen-man team is Doctor Rob Bair who says that the children have been getting the best dental care, free of cost.
Dr. Rob Bair, Dentist
“It’s been going on now for about twenty-five years. We come in, see children. We try to save permanent teeth. We do that by cleaning, placing sealants, taking them out of pain if they have pain, but basically making sure that their permanent dentition is good. We don’t worry much about baby teeth, but permanent teeth. So they come in and we evaluate whether these patients as they are seated. If they need to have fillings, we get fillings placed so we come in and numb them up just like we would back home. If they need to have an extraction; that’s the unfortunate—we don’t do many. Most of them just get their teeth cleaned, they get flossed, they get fluoride applied and we seal all the permanent teeth to help prevent any decay.”
This year, the program has expanded outside of dentition; now providing medical screening for children of a certain age.
“This year we took on medical screening so we’ve screen every student above infant one. So all the standard two through standard six were screened and we checked their vision; checked their body mass index—height and weight—checked their blood pressure, if possible—some of them were too small to check blood pressure. Basically went over healthy foods, diets, how to take care of things. We did a skin check; told them how to take care of their skin because that could be an issue down here. And basically if we identified anything, that went home with them so that the parent make sure that the high pressures are followed up with, that the skin issues got followed up with and the eye doctor, if we had vision issues, got followed up with.”
Duane Moody for News Five.