Around 80% of children in South Africa have tooth decay before the age of six, which is perhaps not surprising with the combination of extremely high sugar consumption and limited access to dental care. Many people do not have basic oral care tools; it’s not unheard of for a whole family to share one toothbrush.
The Dental Wellness Trust (DWT) is on a mission to improve the oral health of children and vulnerable adults around the world. The registered charity is based in London, but making a difference in South Africa, the UK and around the world.
Dentist Dr Linda Greenwall, who is originally from South Africa, founded the dynamic non-profit in 2011, to provide innovative oral health education programmes and treatment for children and vulnerable adults.
“We believe everyone has the right to access oral healthcare, and enjoy a life of dignity, free from pain,” she says. “Prevention is key. Before we start treating tooth decay we need to teach children correct habits.”
The DWT has worked in Israel, Rwanda, Uganda and Ghana. They recently rolled out their Live Smart oral health education programme in Luton, England. “We took what we’ve learnt working with children in South Africa and applied it to the UK,” says Dr Greenwall.
They have been active in South Africa since 2012 and currently work with over 10, 000 pre-school children at 360 schools in low-income areas of Cape Town – Khayelitsha, Mfuleni, Delft and Mitchell’s Plain. They have 33 specially trained ‘toothbrushing mamas’ who run the programme at the schools and in their own homes. Live Smart teaches young children the most important hygiene practices for good health – proper hand washing and correct tooth brushing.
“When we started working in South Africa it was shocking to see the enormous levels of decay in very young children. But we have seen how the Live Smart programme makes a difference and it’s so effective that we’re rolling it out in the UK as well as Johannesburg.” DWT is also working to open a dental clinic and education centre in Mfuleni, where volunteer dental professionals from around the world can come to help treat patients who otherwise are unable to easily access care.
At Ivohealth and our sister company Ivodent, we are committed to supporting the Dental Wellness Trust in South Africa.
You can help! Every time someone signs up for our newsletter in February, we will donate a Sunstar GUM children’s toothbrush to the Trust. Simply sign up here www.ivohealth.co.za/contact-us and give a child in need a new brush and a big smile 🙂