Improving oral health in Cambodia

School children in the troubled Cambodian border town of Poipet have had their teeth protected against decay thanks to a team of Dentaid volunteers.

Dentaid has been working with Love Without Boundaries, a charity that supports poor and vulnerable children in Poipet. The town, which lies on the border between Thailand and Cambodia, has several casinos and many in the town face social problems including addiction, drug and alcohol abuse and violence. Sadly, many children are also affected and there are large numbers of young people living in poverty at risk of exploitation.

Love Without boundaries works in several schools in Poipet and invited Dentaid to send a team of seven volunteers to the region in November 2019. The charity was concerned that many of the young people they support have decayed teeth. Unfortunately, many families in the area can’t afford or access dental care while sugary foods and drinks are cheap and easy to come by.

The team visited three schools and transformed classrooms into dental surgeries for their young patients. Treatments included A.R.T. fillings, fissure sealants, fluoride varnish and silver diamine fluoride to halt decay and protect teeth against future damage. The team also set up toothbrushing programmes and taught teachers how to make oral health part of the school day.

The team treated 109 children at Sokhem School, 126 at Rangsei School and 67 at Ary primary school where Love Without Boundaries helps to support teachers’ salaries and transport children to school so they receive an education.

“The children were quite hesitant to start with as none of them had ever been to the dentist before. Once they realized the dentists were good fun and were not going to hurt them, things were much easier,” said Arlene Howard from Love Without Boundaries.

“As soon as the dental group left, our Cambodian team sprang into action ensuring all the children at the LWB schools had a new toothbrush and toothpaste. The children have already been taking part in a hand washing and dental hygiene program since we had our handwashing stations installed earlier this year. However, teachers made sure they reminded their students of how to properly clean their teeth and why it is so important.

“Other staff members worked hard at preparing posters to put up around the school to remind children to clean their teeth and not eat too many sweets. We are so grateful for the Dentaid team for giving up their time and volunteering to help our children. They were so patient and kind to the children and most of the children had a blast!”

Dentaid runs two volunteering trips to Cambodia every year and applications are now open for the 2021 volunteer experiences.

Volunteering in Cambodia with Dentaid