Rural African communities have little to no access to oral health care. The average dentist-to-population ratio across Africa is 1:150,000, compared to approximately 1:1,667 in the United States. In fact, more than half (52%) of Senegalese people live more than 50 kilometers (more than 30 miles) from the closest dental provider. That's why 97.7% of Senegalese households skip regular annual visits to the dentist and only 25% go to the dentist when in pain.
A Reason to Smile (ARTS) empowers people in rural communities in Senegal and Uganda to attain and maintain a higher level of dental health through dental care, education, and supplies. ARTS aims to prevent the spread of dental disease-giving more and more Africans a reason to smile.
Dental education can save lives. By providing dental education to 500 patients per trip, ARTS prevents many infections including noma, an infection that destroys mucous membranes of the mouth. With a mortality rate of 70-90%, noma is a serious concern. In some rural communities, noma is regarded as a curse or a spell cast on a family or an entire village. An infected child might be hidden or ignored until he or she dies, but dental education can prevent the disease and save lives.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).