Dental mission effecting positive behaviour change in Exuma

Dental mission effecting positive behaviour change in Exuma
Dental Assistant Clothilda Musgrove Bain (left) poses with Dr. Hiram Mitchell Lockhart, Director of Oral Health at the Ministry of Health. (photo courtesy of Sandals Foundation)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A five-day free dental mission has benefitted some 120 children in Great Exuma.

The mission was funded through a partnership with the Sandals Foundation, Sandals Emerald Bay Resort, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education in The Bahamas, according to a recent press release.

Organizers say the continued government support and mass participation of schools, teachers and parents has sparked an improvement in the dental hygiene practices of the Exuma community.

Dr Hiram Mitchell Lockhart, director of Dentistry at Ministry of Health said: “The main purpose of the exercise is to change the knowledge, attitude and dental practices of the adolescent population in Exuma.

“We want to teach children proper dental hygiene, to let them know it’s important to have their teeth cleaned every six months, and be stewards of their own health.

“We are starting to see the results because more children are coming in, their parents are demanding that they be seen and with teachers also receiving dental care through the Mission, they are instrumental in reinforcing the dental hygiene lessons to their students within the schools.”

Lockhart is also also one of the elected Director of the Federation Dental International.

Some 25 children were transported daily by the Ministry of Education to take advantage of the preventative care programme.

Among the dental team, Lockhart was assisted by Sonia Lowe dental hygienist, Lagloria Ferguson, dental nurse and Clothilda Musgrove, dental assistant.

“We are doing mainly preventative dentistry where all the children get cleaning (Dental Prophylaxis),” said Lockhart.

“We have given them fluoride which helps to prevent cavities, distributed toothbrushes, shared the importance of flossing and conducted fillings and extractions.

Ninety percent of school children in Exuma are affected by tooth decay, according to Snovakia Watson, Public Relations Manager at Sandals Emerald Bay and Sandals Foundation Ambassador.

Watson said: “The oral health program designed for Great Exuma promotes a cost effective strategy to prevent oral disease and the adoption of measures to improve equitable access to oral health.”

The Sandals Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts International, has been a partner of the mission since 2018.

More than 600 children have benefited from the programme since then.