BIKES & SMILES, CHILD ORAL HEALTH PROMOTION PILOT PROJECT
Kampong Cham, Cambodia, 2017
In the Cambodian farming community, Prekjik village, over 90% of the children have an average of 9 decayed teeth. Bike 4 Cambodia, a Swedish organization committed to advancing education in the schools of Kampong Cham province, invited Humble Smile to come and help. A team of International Association of Dental Student volunteers from around the world (Germany, Jordan, Slovakia, Russia, Israel, Cambodia) was deployed.
The community welcomed the team into their homes and school, andit didn’t take long to figure out the cause of the tooth decay –the availability of, and preference for, foods and beverages with added sugar, despite the abundance of nutritious foods the community itself produces. The team designed a sustainable preventive school program.
Smile Day consisted of a performance ͞Who’s Your Friend?͟ and a food market where the kids exercised their new knowledge.
Teachers were engaged in formalised tooth brushing. All 650 children were screened for oral disease, and hundreds more cavities were treated with Silver Diamine Fluoride.
All the sweetened snacks and drinks were bought from the 5 school kiosks at the start of the week. Throughout the week the vendors were guided in provision of healthy alternatives, culminating in a Fresh Start ceremony whereby the kids loaded all the unhealthy foods onto a tuk-tuk and waved goodbye.
The volunteers also enjoyed the opportunity to meet Cambodia’s beautiful sights and people.
“This mission has opened my eyes and widened my view in many ways. It makes me a better and more understanding person to experience what other people go through every day – things we take for granted, they see as something very exceptional.͟” Niko Pedan, Slovakia.
The bad news is that our survey and interviews revealed that only 4% of the children are cavity-free. The majority drink sweetened sodas every day, while only 18% eat fruit on a daily basis.The good news is that their school has been transformed into a health promoting school, so the children get a second chance at prevention with the eruption of their permanent teeth, thanks to our sponsor – The Humble Co..