Shoreline Dental Hygiene Students Study Abroad with Smiles Forever
Smiles Forever and the Dental Hygiene Program from Shoreline Community College in Seattle, Washington united for a Study Abroad program with the dental hygiene students in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The mission was one where the exchange of educational and cultural information was emphasized.
For seventeen days the students worked together in various community service projects. The mission was to stop the progression of dental disease, Caries or Cavities, and to provide preventative skills to the community. All 398 school-age children in the village of Morochatta were surveyed identifying either teeth with cavities which could be saved, or teeth that were so diseased that extraction was necessary.
In collaboration with one U.S. dentist and three Bolivian dentists from Cochabamba, seventy-seven teeth were pulled. The students then received an application of a new fluoride product that stops the progression of decay in its tracks!
Preventative Treatment Significant in Remote Areas
This preventative fluoride treatment will not only be helpful to individuals, but it could prove to be the revolutionary way to give the best care in similar remote areas. Twenty students had such severe decay that they were placed on medication and will need future treatment. All the students and their teachers, and many of the parents, received instruction about preventing dental disease.
Then the collaborative efforts of the Shoreline dental hygiene students and the Cochabamba students used this same model to help thirty children at the Viedma Burn Shelter. The Smiles Forever sponsored school for hygienists pledges to return to these community service projects on a regular basis.
Hygienist trainees, Graduates and Faculty Bonded
Everyone involved in these service projects bonded. It was an extraordinary trip and learning experience. An official meeting was held for the graduates of the Cochabamba, Bolivian hygienist school. One wish expressed was that U.S. hygienists could help educate Bolivian dentists about the value of a skilled hygienist as an intregal part of a dental treatment team.