Smiles Forever is a non-profit foundation dedicated to improving the quality of life of impoverished children through free preventive and restorative dentistry backed by a unique educational model for disadvantaged women and mothers to become professional dental hygienists. Through the last 20 years they have provided free preventive and restorative dental care to over 47,000 children, caretakers/parents that are disadvantaged in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Their patients reach them through the 45 different shelters and nonprofits that they work with.
We chatted with Smiles Forever to learn how The West Foundation is helping them.
From contributing writer Sandy Kemper RDH, BS, Founder, Smiles Forever Foundation
Thanks to support of The West Foundation, currently we are able to increase the inclusion of new shelters, homes, and centers to our beneficiary and partner organization family. During our Care Packages Program (a program designed to provide lifesaving biosafety supplies to our partner and beneficiary organizations so that they can adequately protect themselves, and be able to safely mobilize the children to our facilities reducing the exposure to COVID-19), we were able to include new organizations that desperately needed support in the dental field since this pandemic has hit them hard financially.
- Villa Infantil Nueva Esperanza – A shelter focused on the family and social reintegration of children affected by abandonment, abuse and domestic violence, as well as the risk of life on the street and other factors, such as addictions.
- Rosa de Saron – Home for girls and female adolescents that focus on the social reintegration emerging from abandonment and abuse, through processes that range from basic education to obtaining a profession or future occupation.
- Arca de Rescate – Home for boys and male adolescents that focus on the social reintegration emerging from abandonment and abuse, through processes that range from basic education to obtaining a profession or future occupation.
The Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) program continues, for now, to be completely positioned in the Smiles Forever Community Service Dental Clinic and even through the pandemic continues to remain one of our most effective tools to treat patients. Although our biosafety protocols exceed the official requirements, we must consider that most of the power-operated dental equipment is based on an air and water spray system making dental services one of the health operators with greater risk of contagion of COVID-19. Since the SDF treatment does not require the use of equipment based on spray operation systems, it allows us to carry out more treatments at present time. In the future we will concentrate on the aesthetic element of the patients’ needs, focused on prevention and avoiding future life-threatening infections and dental pain in children.
Sadly, one of our strategic partners, Universidad Privada Abierta Latino–Americana (UPAL), hasn’t opened its doors completely to students. Due the restrictions established by education authorities, our joint SDF study has been re–scheduled for the second semester of 2021 when the educational authorities committed to migrate from the online system to the semi in-class room/lab system allowing the opening of the university facilities to resume our research program on the preventive effects of SDF on healthy teeth.
We would like to encourage the public to follow us through The West Foundation, our website, and fundraising activities. Further, if the public has any ideas that they feel are useful, please contact us through our website.
Thanks for your support during this dark and difficult pandemic times.