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Bringing dental care to children in Peru

Volunteer dentists from
Volunteer dentists from "Dentamigos" examining a young boy's teeth.
March 1, 2011

Poor oral health is a serious problem in Peru, with tooth decay affecting around 95% of the population. But a Plan project is bringing dental care and teaching good oral hygiene to children in Cusco.

In rural areas of Cusco, and specifically in the province of Anta, the problem of poor dental health is acute due to the small number of specialists. There are only three dentists for the entire province, which has approximately 20,800 inhabitants.

One of the serious problems children and adolescents have in the far-away Andean and rural areas is tooth decay. Many boys and girls have this problem and some have even lost their teeth.

Plan and the Peruvian Ministry of Health worked in coordination through the Health Micro-Net of Anta to offer an alternative treatment for tooth decay using a technique which seals any fissures during the initial or intermediate stages.

The project, implemented through local schools, was targeted at reducing the prevalence of tooth decay in children aged between six and nine years old, and included treatment for existing problems and lessons on good oral hygiene and effective brushing.

The intervention was strengthened thanks to the participation of Dutch dentists from "Dentamigos". Doctors André Brockhus, Paul Vagl and Frans Bernink worked with Plan to implement an extensive campaign among the communities of Curamba, Tamba Real and San Nicolas of the District of Zurite. Almost 500 children and adults received attention and this group of professionals intends to continue working with the girls and boys in the area.

"We have been very happy to be treated. It was a little painful but I know I won't be having toothaches in the future as they have told me to brush my teeth after eating and to take care of them," said Dalia, in the 5th grade.

Another student, Elmer, said: "Some of my friends were afraid and did not want to go in. However, after seeing that it was not that painful, they did want to be treated. It hurt me a little because they took my tooth out as it was bad and hurt me a lot. Sometimes, I could not even study. Now, the rest of my teeth have been cured too and they don't hurt me anymore."

Learn more about Plan's work in Peru.