The Rob Ferreira Hospital’s dental outreach and oral health awareness programme received a boost recently. Operation Smile South Africa, with support from Mafube Coal and ICAP, donated mobile dental equipment to the programme, which serves 15 primary schools in lower socio-economic areas around Mbombela.
Included in the equipment was a mobile dentist’s chair, stool, portable light and instruments valued at R240 000.
With support from the hospital’s dentists, the oral hygienist will now be able to carry out basic dental treatment in schools – and improve awareness of the importance of good oral health.
Each year, the programme reaches over 6 000 learners. The aims are threefold:
- Identify any dental work needed by learners;
- Implement and monitor a daily toothbrushing programme at school;
- Basic dental treatment, including fissure sealants, with consent from parents.
Children’s first permanent molars erupt at around 6 years of age. If fissure sealants are applied to the teeth of caries (decay) prone learners, the risk of tooth decay will be lowered.
But the hospital’s oral hygienist cannot carry out this procedure during school visits without specialised mobile dental equipment. As a result, the risk of preventable dental problems would increase.
Sarah Scarth, Executive Director for Operation Smile South Africa, said, “Dental is a critical component of comprehensive cleft care. Operation Smile is proud to partner with the Mpumalanga Department of Health as part of our commitment to strengthening health systems.”