[L-r] Clothilda Musgrove Bain, Dental Assistant poses with Dr. Hiram Mitchell Lockhart, Director of Oral Health for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas .

Dental hygiene and care in Great Exuma are seeing positive improvements thanks to the participation of parents and teachers in the Children’s Dental Mission.

Some 120 children recently benefitted from a five day free dental mission made possible through a partnership with the Sandals Foundation, Sandals Emerald Bay Resort, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education in The Bahamas. The activities took place at the Exuma Community Clinic.

Dr. Hiram Mitchell Lockhart, Director of Dentistry, Ministry of health, Commonwealth of the Bahamas and also one of the elected Director of the Federation Dentaire International chief dental officers section the says the continued government support and mass participation of schools, teachers and parents have begun to see improvement in the dental hygiene practices of the Exuma community.

“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.”

Some 25 children were transported daily by the Ministry of Education to the 5-day Mission to take advantage of the preventative care programme. The dental team of four comprised Dr. Lockhart being 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). We have given them fluoride which helps to prevent cavities, distributed toothbrushes, shared the importance of flossing and conducted fillings and extractions,” said Dr. Lockhart.

With a reported 90% of school children in Exuma affected by tooth decay, Snovakia Watson, Public Relations Manager at Sandals Emerald Bay and Sandals Foundation Ambassador says, “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. Close to 300 children benefited from the programme in 2018.