The simple act of thoroughly brushing teeth once a day, as conducted in elementary schools that are part of the Rise Above Foundation program, effectively improves tooth decay and deterioration by 50% amongst these kids. As a result, the children can focus on their schoolwork, instead of their pain. (If twice daily brushing could be instituted, statistics show that it would cut tooth decay significantly by a further 20%. The challenge here is the fact that the follow-up element, brushing after a second meal, would need to be conducted at the children’s homes.)
In this program, the toothbrushes are kept at the school so that this practice of daily brushing can be overseen and monitored. Whereas if the toothbrushes were to be returned home with the child, since the parents have no dental hygiene background, the practice would soon be lost. The goal here is to eventually build a habit so that the kids at school learn to brush their teeth as they grow up.
Someone viewing the program underway would see kids departing their classrooms as the recess bell rings, and first taking a few minutes to line up to brush their teeth. Many such schools previously had an enormous percentage of absenteeism due to children having toothaches and thus staying home.
There are many ramifications of having bad teeth, not least of which is in applying for a job. When someone is trying to get a job in the food industry or in some form of public relations, if they have unsightly teeth they’re not going to qualify. Even those who check off having a history of “toothaches” will be suspect. In fact, you can’t even join the Army without a dental check as the Army doesn’t want recruits so occupied with toothaches that they can’t concentrate on the battlefield conditions.
In a given school district of 50,000 students, there may only be one dentist and a small staff who in theory are responsible for the dental needs of all 50,000 students! (Meaning the chances are low a child would ever make it to see a dentist!) Imagine a situation where one dentist and 4 hygienists (and an average of a penny or two per child per year as budgeted by the government) were responsible for all these elementary school students. Obviously it is a hopeless situation without outside intervention.
Rise Above Foundation organizes free dental camps for underprivileged families. Originally sparked by an article in the Danish Dental Journal back in 2002, dentists now travel regularly from Denmark to work with local dentists in providing dental care to the needy. Most of the dental missions, which last from 1 – 2 weeks each, are arranged on the island of Cebu, as well as on the nearby islands of Bohol, Negros and Leyte.