Dr Julie Gittins promoting Oral Health in Cambodian Schools
In January 2017 Dr Julie Gittins and her daughter Chelsea travelled to Cambodia with Solar Smiles, an ambitious Rotary project aimed at addressing rural Cambodia’s overwhelming need for dental care and oral hygiene education.
On this trip Dr Julie visited Soksan International School, located in the village of Soksan, in Kampong Thom province.
Prior to our arrival, most of the Soksan children had never seen a dentist, and with poor awareness of oral health, there was an incredible amount of decayed and infected teeth.
Together, Dr Julie and the Solar Smiles team, were able to use mobile solar powered dental equipment to treat almost 200 patients, performing many fillings and tooth extractions.
Dental check up for local student at Soksan International School Cambodia
Soksan village is a small dusty community, where the people live simply, in basic wooden huts. Many of the local parents work at the school, which was created and run by Cambodian Kids Foundation, and supports local children’s education and health.
The dental work was completed outdoors, and physically challenging for all involved, due to the dust, heat, humidity, ants and mosquitos – quite a difference to the luxury of regular dentistry! Not to mention the language barrier and poor awareness of dental education.
Despite this, the Soksan people were wonderful to us and very thankful for our help, many had been suffering toothaches for quite some time.
As a side note, the school’s cat had sustained a deep wound that required treatment. Since there was no vet to help, Dr Julie agreed to attempt treatment. It was certainly a team effort, it took three people to hold Marley the cat, while local anaesthetic was applied, and then 4 stitches placed.
Marley was not impressed, to say the least, although no less than 10 minutes later, she was up and about. This would have to be the most unusual patient our dentist has treated, but no less worthy!
Solar Smiles is planning the next Cambodia trip for July 2017 and would love to hear from any dental staff interested in volunteering