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Sandals Foundation and Great Shape Inc. Brighten Over 7000 Smiles

Montego Bay, Jamaica – Over 7000 primary school children across Jamaica have already received dental care services as US – based charity Great Shape! Inc., working in partnership with the Sandals Foundation, made its eighth visit to the island this month.

Through its Dental Sealant Project, the group is focused on reducing cavities in Jamaican primary school children by placing a clear white liquid known as sealant over their teeth in order to protect them from bacteria, which would eventually cause tooth decay. The services are delivered by licensed dental hygienist and dental students from schools in the US, Canada and Jamaica who have volunteered under the programme.

Last week, over 270 students at Somerton Primary School in St. James received sealants as well as cleaning services from the group of 30 volunteers, led by Great Shape! Inc Executive Director, Joseph Wright. The programme was launched in Jamaica in 2010. “Our project is a preventative one and our mission is to go into the schools to reduce and prevent cavities and using sealants is a proven and cost-effective way to do that.” Wright said. He added that the sealants can last up to 10 years with proper care.

In addition to receiving sealants, each student also received a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste with lessons on how to properly care for their teeth, something that Somerton Primary School Principal, Glendon Brydson said is very important to teach the children good oral hygiene.
“Almost all our students were seen, several tooth extractions were done, even teachers and staff members received cleaning. The parents are so grateful for what happened here this week,” Brydson said. The students were also taught about the dangers of eating unhealthy foods.

The Dental Sealant Project has been done in schools in St. James, Hanover, Westmoreland and St. Elizabeth. “We will be back in Jamaica in October this year and we will go to another school in another parish with our Sealant project. We hope to reach around 700 hundred students in all this year,” Wright said. Wright said he hopes to provide the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information with information from the project that can help the government to implement the Dental Sealant Project in all primary schools across the country.