Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Taking Care of Teeth in Guatemala

Now that the Valentine’s Day treats are off the shelves and (hopefully) out of the house, it’s time to grab a toothbrush and some floss and make sure those sugar-packed goodies aren't causing long term damage to your teeth or your kids’ teeth.

Did you know that February is National Children’s Dental Health Month?

Something that may easily be taken for granted here in the U.S., dental care is incredibly hard to come by in Guatemala. Poor or inaccessible dental care is particularly worrisome for children, who face long-term health consequences when their permanent teeth don’t receive the care they need from the start.

Because oral health is essential to overall health, lack of dental care can have far-reaching ramifications. What starts as just a small cavity can become a more serious oral condition, like tooth decay or gum disease. Even beyond mouth pain and discomfort, some oral diseases have been linked to heart disease, premature birth or low birth rate, and osteoporosis.

What’s PID doing to help?

We’re thrilled now be offering full-time dental care in Guatemala. The dental program is available free of charge for school-age children, pregnant women and the elderly, and for a minimum charge (to cover materials) for teenagers and adults. This is the first time dental care has been available to almost all of the residents in the area.

The clinic is staffed by dental students from the national university of Guatemala, who are required to give back to their country during their final year of school. Every year, a new student will come to provide one year of community dental care and oral hygiene education in the local schools.

In addition to this regular service, we are privileged to have a team from from Dalhousie University in Canada for the second year in a row. This week, they hope to see around 100 patients per day for extractions, fillings, sealants and dentures.

What can you do?

Learn more about PID’s medical program, including dental care, in Guatemala and consider supporting our efforts. Also, be sure to brush and floss daily, visit your dentist regularly, and replace your toothbrush every couple months.

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