In January 2017, after travelling for 4 months through South East Asia I actually began to miss work (I know, it sounds wierd). I was ready to get back into dental. I began researching and asking around for non-profit dental clinics in Kampot (where I was living for a few months). A supportive restaurant owner pointed me in the direction of Kbal Romeas, a 45 minute motorcycle ride away. The beautiful team here was more than welcoming and asked if I wanted to join them on a 3 day trip, 6 hour drive into Takeo province where we would travel to many schools and teach children about the importance of brushing their teeth!
The dental team was made up of local Cambodians so while they spoke with the children my job was to go around with the big fake teeth and show them how to brush. After the team was done speaking we handed out toothbrushes, divied up toothpaste and went outside to perfect their brushing skills.
The first day, sitting in the back seat, while driving back to the little hotel we were staying in, tears swelled in my eyes as I remembered the beautiful little faces we had seen. Children from 4 to 17 years old, brushing their teeth and spitting out blood. For many, this was the first time they had brushed thier teeth in weeks, or months or ever.
This problem is not isolated to Cambodia of course, there are children with poor oral hygiene and lack of education around the world, in first world countries too. Maybe it was seeing all 4 sibilings squeeze onto one pedal bike to get home or maybe it was watching them play with a hand-me-down dolly in the dirt. It might have been their neverending laughing and smiles. For whatever reason the children here made such an impact on my life and have opened my heart. I need to give back. I need to see that there are more healthy options for children who want them. I want to see those smile filled with pearly whites for life!