Healthy teeth and happy faces thanks to ‘Zero Cavities’

Brave young Mary smiles again because she no longer has a terrible toothache! 

The 11-year-old was in agony from an infected molar. But thanks to the Tondo site’s “Zero Cavities” dental program, an oral surgeon patched her up, free of charge!

Dental caries is one of the leading health problems among children in Tondo. Families are not always well informed about the need for good oral hygiene. The parents face so many other challenges, like unemployment and food insecurity – and dental care can start to slip as a priority. “Dental care and practice of good oral hygiene had been the least of the family’s concerns,” writes the Tondo site staff.  

Tondo site has sunk their teeth into the challenge. Before the pandemic, the Tondo dental team had given complete care to 75% of sponsored children. But the COVID pandemic halted everything. The two years were tough on the children’s teeth – the site team feels as though they are starting from scratch. 

They persevere nonetheless! The omicron wave slowed their restart, but by February, they had gained momentum.  By March, the program dentist treated 124 sponsored children and 12 of their siblings. The “Dental Home Program” teams delivered fluoride treatments to 441 children in eight neighborhoods. 

The site staff are helping the parents move oral hygiene up their list of priorities. A dental hygienist conducts workshops with Chalice family circle groups on topics such as tooth-brushing, dental check-ups, and foods that are harmful to tooth enamel. 

“It was the first time for most parents to hear about them, and they were like ‘Ahhh’ – expressing the AHA moments.’” remembers the Tondo site staff. Everyone took home a toothbrush and toothpaste to put theory into practice. The hygienist even created an online group to share lessons and activities – and it already has 650 members! 

The site staff are thrilled to see that parents are open to changing their habits and attitudes.  The best part, the staff say, “is seeing the sponsored parents initiating change within themselves and their families, for the better.”