Smiles Forever began 15 years ago as a Dental Hygiene School in Cochabamba, Bolivia providing vocational training for homeless, indigenous women. Since then our mission has expanded to bring dental care to thousands yearly. This award-winning model for giving dental care in the 3rd world, capitalizes on the trainees internship time, under the leadership of our dental professionals, operating an at-cost clinic. Also, each year the program has reached out to take our mobile clinic to more areas.
Dental care for the indigenous population was virtually non-existent in Bolivia when Smiles Forever was founded. We have fashioned a teaching and service model for bringing dental treatments to the under-served .both within the city of Cochabamba and the surrounding areas. Bolivians suffer from poor diet which can destroy protective enamel. Even children may have severe abscesses and staining and tooth loss. We now serve 16 shelters for children, but so many more could be helped.
Smiles Forever will continue to give young Bolivian women an opportunity to learn the profession of Dental Hygiene. These students, lead by Smiles Forever professionals, treat thousands both at the on-site clinic and out in the field. Besides going to schools and shelters, the team now goes to communities, including a jungle village. When a woman graduates, she will be placed in a Dental Hygiene job. This training/treatment/service model grows exponentially improving dental health & lives.
These newly trained professionals are role models for other homeless, indigenous women and they are committed to raising the level of dental care, thus by extension, the overall health of their communities. Spreading the word about decay prevention can alleviate needless suffering and stop the practice of pulling teeth as the only solution. These Bolivian women will in turn offer their own children better dental care and carry the message that good teeth can be saved.
This project has provided additional documentation in a Microsoft Excel file (projdoc.xls).