Where did it all begin?
In 1995, the UK charity Hope Now was approached by a prison governor in Ukraine. His inmates were in urgent need of dental care and a local dentist had agreed to come to the prison if they could set up a surgery there. A UK dentist who was upgrading his surgery donated his old equipment which was driven across Europe and the clinic was a great success.
Hope Now recognised the need for a dental charity and in 1996 Dentaid was formed with one member of staff working from his garage supported by a £10,000 grant.
At first the charity concentrated on refurbishing donated equipment and sending it to charitable dental clinics across the world. But as funding increased, Dentaid started oral health education projects, dental engineer training and volunteering trips.
The charity also runs oral health projects in schools and establishes toothbrushing programmes. In the UK, Dentaid developed its Bright Bites education resource for Key Stage 2 pupils which includes teachers’ packs and resources for children.
In the year 2000, Dentaid moved to Landford in Wiltshire which was its home for 19 years before the charity relocated to Totton in Hampshire in April 2019. Today the charity has a busy workshop where dental equipment is sorted and refurbished and an office with 12 members of staff who are supported by a fantastic network of volunteers.
In 2009, Dentaid engineers invented the DentaidBox – a portable surgery that can be operated without access to running water or electricity. This portable surgery could be used to deliver dental care in remote communities and establish dental surgeries in schools, churches, public buildings and even out in the open. DentaidBoxes have been sent to projects all over the world.
For the last 25 years, Dentaid has worked tirelessly to support its dental partners by providing equipment, funding outreach clinics, supporting their training and sending teams of UK volunteers to work alongside them.
In 2019, Dentaid supplied 16 dental chairs and training units to a hospital in Malawi where they will be used for training a new generation of dental professionals.
In addition to its busy overseas programme, Dentaid has a range of projects in the UK.
The charity’s first UK project took place in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire in December 2015 with free clinics for people who were struggling to access dental care. The project was such a success that Dentaid purchased a mobile dental unit that delivers free outreach dental care for homeless and vulnerable people across the UK.
The unit visits homeless shelters, soup kitchens and hostels in addition to running quayside dental clinics for fishermen, and being used for oral health projects in schools and nurseries. In summer 2019, Dentaid bought a second vehicle to help meet demand for clinics and ensure more homeless people can access dental care.