Global Dental Relief: Changing Lives One Pearly White at a Time

dental_reliefOral healthcare is something severely lacking in the developing world. The World Health Organization published that approximately 60-90% of school children have dental cavities. However, there is only 1 dentist for every 150,000 people in Africa.

“Developing countries face great challenges in their optimal oral care,” Dr. Tin Chun Wong, President of the World Dental Federation, noted. “Oral health is integral to general health and a basic human right, and we must ensure cost-effective solutions become available to all.”

Global Dental Relief started out as a small, short-term relief project in Nepal in 2001. Founders Laurie Matthews and Andrew Holececk were inspired to do something about the lack of dental care in impoverished countries when they took a sabbatical in Nepal. There were 120 dentists for a population of nearly 24 million people at the time.

Fourteen years later it has become a nonprofit organization offering free dental care to children in poverty in six different countries. More than 1,500 volunteers have gone on the trips hosted by Global Dental Health and 93,930 patients have been seen through their clinics since the organization was originally founded.

Global Dental Relief hosts 16 different six-day trips for volunteers to go to one of the six countries to serve those who have little to no dental care. In 2014, 249 volunteers provided free preventative care as well as oral health education to 13,000 in Nepal, India, Vietnam, Guatemala, Kenya and Cambodia.

Global Dental Relief offers people the opportunity to help improve dental health in poor countries through volunteer work and donations. Volunteers include dentists, assistants, hygienists, as well as those with no dental experience.

Global Dental Relief gives people the option to sponsor children when donating. A mere $50 sponsors complete dental care for five children and $5,000 sponsors a 6-day dental clinic that will serve between 500 and 1,000 children.

Iona Brannon

Sources: Andrew Holececk, Colorado Expression, FDI World Dental Federation, Global Dental Health 1, Global Dental Health 2, Global Dental Health 3, World Health Organization 1, World Health Organization 2
Photo: Global Dental Relief