REPORTS FROM THE FIELD: A Day with EBPP’s Volunteer Dentist Treating and Educating Village Children

By Amy Cardamone MPH, Expert volunteer Public Health Advisor

What a great day we had in East Bali on Wednesday September 11.  The morning started with a Dental Clinic at SD 7 Tianyar Timur School in Tianyar where 39 kids lined up to get their teeth checked.  EBPP’s volunteer dentist, Dr. Cahya Putri,  greeted them with a warm smile and an informative and age-appropriate lecture on the importance of taking care of our teeth.  The primary school age kids (Classes 1-6) settled right down and listened with rapt attention.

I Gusti Ayu, a recent public health graduate from Udayana University who has applied for a position with EBPP and was spending the day with us in the field, helped the little ones fill in the registration/patient forms.  Meanwhile, I Nyoman Gede Sukadana, an experienced dental nurse from the local Government Community Health Centre in Tianyar Timur, Puskesmas Kubu II, set up the equipment in the front of the room and the dentists got right down to work.

Dr. Putri sat face to face with each child and questioned them in about their teeth brushing habits.  Heads bowed the kids, who obviously were not brushing their teeth regularly, could barely meet her eyes.  After checking the teeth of a 12 year old, she said to him: “You are in 6th grade now and your teeth are still good.  But they are dirty because you do not brush them.  Do you have a tooth brush? Yes? Then tell your mother to buy tooth paste and brush your teeth twice a day every day after breakfast and before sleep.  When will you start?” Silence.  “You are a handsome boy.  Do you want to have holes in your teeth and stinky breath?”  A quiet “No” came from the boy.  “Ok you start brushing your teeth tonight”  “Yes” responded the boy.  “Is that a promise?”  “Yes!” this time with more conviction.  “Good, I will see you in 12 months and I know your teeth will be clean and white.”

The educational component of the dental clinic is critical to its success and I was thrilled to see Dr. Putri manage it so professionally.  The “brush your teeth twice a day” message was repeated over and again during the 1.5 hour clinic and the children were asked to recite it several times before the session ended.

Health education is all about convincing people to commit to healthy habits.  East Bali Poverty Project focuses on fostering healthy habits in young children so they will grow up healthy and teach their parents along the way.

Footnote from David Booth MBE, EBPP Founder & CEO:

We are proud partners of Inspirasia Foundation, formerly called Annika Linden Foundation, since 2004, who have sponsored EBPP Dental outreach programme to over 7,000 children in more than 50 schools in Desa Ban and the 3 large Tianyar villages of Kubu District since 2009.

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