Although we cannot serve a large number of kindergartens, we still want to try our best, even if there is only one, said Sherry Gao. Over the past few years, the team have carried out the Stop Tooth Decay project providing dental examination for around 100 kindergartens in Hong Kong. However, they had no choice but to terminate the project due to insufficient funding.
Fortunately, the team found out that they could apply for another student funding. They could therefore continue this project to help more kindergarten children. Since the funding could only support services in four kindergartens at maximum, they decided to target those kindergartens with insufficient resources. They were Choi Ha Estate Kit Sam Kindergarten, Yuen Long Church (CCC) Chan Kwong Kindergarten, HKCS Lei Cheng Uk Nursery School and Tai Po Rhenish Church Kindergarten.
Support from Kindergartens
The team visited the four kindergartens from October, 2016 to April, 2017. They offered free dental examinations for children and oral health education lectures to both children and parents by teaching them how to prevent tooth decay, brush teeth and use dental floss properly.
They were pleased that all the kindergartens were very supportive and cooperative. Their cooperation has made the project a success. The teachers were especially grateful about this outreach project, and believed the team and the delivered oral health knowledge had hugely benefited their students.
In Hong Kong, the dental health of the children aged 3 to 5 are neglected by the government as School Dental Care Service only caters students from primary school. Surprisingly, dental diseases are no longer a “privilege” of grownups, but also for young children. One of the team members Kitty found out in her research that there is serious tooth decay among children aged from 3 to 5. Decayed primary teeth may cause further infection and badly affect the growth of permanent teeth or lead to poor dentition. “I’m glad that most of the parents realise the importance of oral health for children’s development after the health education lecture.” said another team member Iris.
Children aged 3 to 5 just start to develop attention skills,short-term memory, and long-term memory. “We cannot ensure that those children understand all the knowledge in the talk.” said Iris. Therefore, each talk ran around half an hour only in order to capture the children’s attention. Some children were super active, curious and kept running around instead of listening to the talk. The team developed interesting teaching material and provided some souvenirs, such as stickers, to attract the children’s attention.
Passion is the Key
“If you ask me why this project is successful, I would say that it does not depend on our knowledge or skills, but depends on our passion to be a dentist.” said Kitty. They didn’t view dentists as a job only to provide treatment, but as the source of love and passion. Serving the children is not about how smart you are, but about how much time and passion you are willing to devote. Knowledge is easily attained; whereas passion is hard to enrich.
Not What They Learned, but What They Brought
What they gained most from the project is not any knowledge or skills, but the brightest smile from the children. “I am really happy to see the children having the greatest smiles,” said Kitty. “When I saw their bright smile, all our efforts deserve,” said Sherry, “The children were really cute. They treated us as big brother and sister. Their smiles are the big courage for us to keep on the project.”
Long Way to Go
“I realized that dentist is not a simple job in the real world. However, all these experiences from the project taught me how to handle my work better next time.” said Sherry. Yet, this is surely a long-term development. “In the foreseeable future, we hope to help the young generation to have healthy teeth. We are missioned to bring all people a brighter smile.” said Kitty.