Poor oral health is a large issue in The Gambia, where a vast majority of children suffer from dental caries. 67% of the 12 year olds and 73% of the 15 year olds have cavities and only 14% of the 5 year olds are cavity free. 5 year olds have an average of 4.25 decayed teeth.
According to WHO, there are approximately 23 dentists working in the country which corresponds to a ratio of 1 dentist per 100,000 citizens, compared to 83 dentists per 100,000 citizens in Sweden.
The same survey found that fifty percent of the children from the rural areas aged 5-years used chewing stick while the remaining used nothing at all. Among the 12-years old rural living children, 72% used chewing sticks and 28% used imported toothbrushes. The 3-year pilot lead by Swedish organization Afrikaada Teethsavers, involves administration of fluoridated salt, acute dental treatment (extractions and ART) and oral health education in schools, by dental professional volunteers from abroad. Healthcare workers, school cooks and mothers are also trained to keep the prevention going in between mission visits which occur twice a year. 2500 children aged 4-9 are reached in 20 schools in the Soma region. Additionally 500 mothers are involved in the training program.