I won’t say that dental hygiene is completely neglected here. Some people have really beautiful teeth. Though, admittedly, most adults have their less-than-perfect-teeth supplemented by really beautiful metal “bling bling.” Seriously–it can be beautiful. I’ve seen metal stars and hearts put into teeth, like dental jewelry. Grills can be so fashionable that sometimes I want a little “bling bling” drilled into my teeth.
Yet, of course, behind most metal-mouths in Nicaragua are rotten teeth–a completely preventable condition, caused by a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates and a failure to brush teeth regularly. P.S. To fashion a toothbrush out of a stick, bite one end until it bristles and use it as your brush. Sharpen the other end until you can use it as a toothpick. No toothpaste available? No worries. Add equal parts baking soda and salt with a little bit of water. Put it on your home-made toothbrush, and brush your teeth, for the love of god.
Now to the story at hand. Last Tuesday I ventured to my friend Anna’s site to help her with a dental hygiene activity. A medical brigade from the States had come to her site a few months back and left her with a few hundred extra fluoride treatments. So we went to the primary school and to the Comedor Infantil (a place where kids can get a free lunch) to talk to kids about dental health and to administer the fluoride treatments.
Here’s Anna at the Primary School waiting for the kids to show up, with our beautiful charlas in the background.
Anna in action administering fluoride to the primary school kids. It was madness–in about a half hour, we administered about 150 treatments. The teachers, thankfully, jumped in to help us too.
Here’s the Comedor Infantil. About 60 kids showed up for lunch and (little did they know) dental treatments…muahahaha.
Here’s me painting fluoride on a little girl’s teeth. My favorite part was when I had to put it on the front of their teeth because I’d say, “deme una sonrisa!” / “give me a smile!” and they’d smile wide. I’d like to think it’s because I was so charming, but I think it was just to avoid having their lips touch the banana-flavored fluoride.
It was a great activity. I was surprised how many kids already had teeth that were completely rotten through, but it felt good to be able to actually do something to help their dental health rather than just talking about it. Hopefully the fluoride will give them a little bit of protection, at least for a little while. If not, they may be rockin’ some grills later on.