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San Pedro’s Smile Center

Once again, the San Pedro Smile Center has provided over 100 children and adults with a healthier smile, as a team of volunteer dentists from the U.S.A. conducted a free dental hygiene clinic for one week at the Polyclinic II. The team of highly-experienced dentists rendered dental care services to school children from Isla Bonita Elementary, New Horizon Adventist School, and Island Academy, as well as many adults.

“We are trying to change the present attitude that Belizeans have in regards to dentists and oral hygiene,” Dr. Mark Johnson, the Smile Center’s project organizer and coordinator, told Ambergris Today. “We want both children and adults to visits their dentists for regular check-ups and not to wait until the tooth hurts or starts decaying and have them receiving emergency treatment only. We want them to see their visits as positive experiences and make them come back to the dental office for regular check-ups. Prevention is the key word here.”

Dr JoanIn January of this year, another team of volunteer dentists gave free dental services to over 180 school children at the Polyclinic’s SP Smile Center for the very first time. Dr. Johnson and his wife, Joan, a dental hygienist, have been organizing and coordinating efforts for the past 6 years to have the fully-equipped dental clinic so that volunteer dentists can come to the San Pedro to provide effective and efficient services for the community. Fortunately for the community, their noble dream has come true, and this is the second time they have provided the services to the community at the Polyclinic’s Smile Center.

“Our goal for the first dental clinic was twofold,” Joan Johnson told Ambergris Today. “First, we wanted to organize the clinic so that volunteer dentists are effective and efficient in their services and second, we wanted to change the attitude of people who visit the dentist, especially the children. It is very important for them to undergo training in proper dental hygiene, so that’s basically what we hoped to accomplish during the first clinic.” This time around, Dr. Johnson told our newspaper that the team continued reinforcing visits as positive experiences, and for the first time, they were also doing tooth fillings, restorations, and emergency treatment.

Patients were also given lessons in proper brushing of their teeth, flossing, fluoride care, and visual counting of their teeth. Joining Dr. Johnson and Joan at the Smile Center last week were Dr. Louis Lam, a dentist from Minnesota with 23 years of experience and regarded as a very “fast” and efficient doctor; Joyce Tudor, an assistant who came all the way from California; and Douglas and Sue Hoveland from Minnesota. Eleonor Rosado from San Pedro, who is studying to be a dental assistant, once more provided the team help with schedule coordination, and Cullin Walker, also from the island, assisted with Oral Hygiene instruction.

“We are in need of volunteers and supplies for the Smile Center,” Dr. Johnson said this Monday. “We want to hold another clinic on June 12, September 18, November and early next year in January. Therefore, we are looking for more volunteer dentists to give of their time.”

The volunteer team extended their thanks to Ramon’s Village and the Conch Shell Inn for their kind donations of guest rooms. Thanks was also given to Dr. Giovanni Solorzano for his assistance with the acquisition of licenses for the volunteer dentists. During the clinic conducted last week, all services provided for the children were free, and adult patients were only asked for a small donation to assist with the Polyclinics electric bills.

Photo Caption:
1. Dr. Lewis Lam works on patient from New Horizon School.
2. Dr. Joan Johnson.

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