A century ago, tooth brushing was the latest thing in the US. The state of oral health in the country was terrible. Our diet had changed to include much more refined sugars, and we were coming to understand how badly that was impacting our teeth and gums. Across the country, kids learned how to brush their teeth in school clubs and took that knowledge home to their parents.
These children would eventually internalize the message and pass it on to their children. They were the first generation of tooth brushers, and as they went away to serve in Europe or the Pacific in WWII, the lessons of tooth brushing were reinforced in the military routine, and when GIs came home, tooth brushing became part of our normal routine.
Today, the Peace Corps is trying to spread this idea around the world. It’s part of a volunteering spirit that we also embrace in our practice. We believe everyone in the world deserves good oral health, and we want to do what we can to promote it.
Why Tooth Brushing Is a Great Skill to Spread
Tooth brushing is a great project for the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps is built on the idea that Americans should serve their country not just in the military, but as ambassadors of American goodness to the world. Unlike the military, though, the Peace Corps doesn’t have a huge budget. Their budget is about 0.05% that of the military. So they need to look for projects that can make a big impact with a small investment.
That’s one thing that tooth brushing definitely is: a small investment that can make a big impact. With just a few minutes a day, you can prevent decay and gum disease.
Tooth brushing campaigns have a benefit not just today, either. Once children learn to brush their teeth, this is a skill they can keep for life. It’s also a skill that they can pass on to their siblings and even their parents. This makes the skill a “living contribution,” to the area, one that will promote itself long after Peace Corps volunteers have gone home.
This makes the project popular among Peace Corps volunteers, such as a current one ongoing in the Kyrgyz Republic and a recently completed one in Belize.
We Believe in Spreading Dental Health as Volunteers
We share with the mission of the Peace Corps the idea that we should help spread good oral health where people need it. This includes doing volunteer work overseas, as well as right here in Orange County. We have volunteered to provide free dental care as part of a CDA Cares event, and have traveled to neighboring states to help provide dental implants to homeless veterans.
We have traveled with the charity Smiles for Hope and provided dental care in remote villages. Despite the sometimes minimal facilities (we worked under a tarp at one point), we were able to help improve the oral health of people who might not otherwise have access to care.
We Serve Our Community and Our Patients
We believe that service to our community is part of our obligation as dentists. We take it just as seriously as we take our commitment to the patients we see in our office, who will always receive the best care we can offer.