In Guatemala, as in most impoverished countries, preventive dental care is an unheard of term. Just keeping food on the table, managing illness and staying safe are the biggest priorities for families. Going to the dentist, if one is available, is about fillings and extractions, not preventive care.
But things are different in Peronia, Guatemala, the site of Open Wide’s first clinic built in January 2012. When the clinic first opened, the patient mentality was still one of emergency dental care. In the three years since it has been in operation, Open Wide has worked closely with the full time Guatemalan staff and resident students to teach preventive care and make it an important part of every patient’s visit.
To that end, our most recent group of resident students from the University of Mariano Galvez, made their thesis project the installation of oral health patient education stations in the Peronia clinic so that every patient could have a place to learn and practice good hygiene care. Each station has a sink with running water, a countertop, a mirror and written handouts with instructions for brushing and flossing. A new paved area was laid and brick was used for the structure.
On February 12th, a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the new stations was held. The significance of the project was evidenced by the influential list of attendees including Mariano Galvez University Dean and Academic Coordinators, Peronia Clinic Director, Dr. Stephanie Lambour, Director of Health of Municipality of Villa Nueva, Guillermo Hegel and our own Director and Co-chair of Development for Open Wide Foundation, Evelyn Paiz.
“Muchas Grasias” to the dental students from Mariano Galvez for making oral health education a permanent priority in the clinic!