Westmoreland Community Welcomes Overseas Dental Mission

Photo: JIS Photographer Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson (left), looks on while students at the Mearnsville Primary School in Westmoreland perform a song, at a function held at the Mearnsville Methodist Church on Friday, May 31, to conclude a one week dental mission by the Great Shape dental group from the United States.

Residents of the Mearnsville community in Westmoreland are elated and grateful, having benefited from a week of free dental services from the United States-based Great Shape dental group.

Some 300 residents of the community were reached over the five-day period from May 27 to 31, where they benefitted from services such as teeth cleaning, filling and extraction, and sensitization on proper oral health care.

The group, which has been coming to Jamaica since 1988, was making its second visit to the Westmoreland community. Their trip was made possible by the Sandals Foundation.

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Acting Principal of the Mearnsville Primary School, Grace Williams, said 95 of her students received dental attention. She said they were also taught proper brushing techniques, and received booklets and toothbrushes.

“I am grateful, because I know that these children will be taking care of their teeth. Learning how to take care of their teeth will alleviate toothache and the absenteeism from school will lessen. For sure, the parents are happy as they don’t need to go to the dentist and pay large sums of money,” she stated.

Mearnsville Primary School student, Tash-Marie Rodney, who benefited from teeth cleaning, told JIS News that she now feels more comfortable when she smiles. She said she was also instructed on how to prevent cavities.

“It is very nice to know that someone cares about our teeth, and I thank them for everything that they have done for our school and our teachers,” she stated.

Parent, Venecia Pinnock, said she was happy for the team’s visit “because they have done a very good job for my kids. They have done tremendously well, and I would love for them to come back to the community.”

Executive Director of Great Shape, Joseph Wright, stated that the group of dentists are “only too happy” to provide dental services for Jamaicans, especially the children.

“If you start out with good, healthy teeth, you set yourself on a good trajectory for healthy adult teeth,” he pointed out. Mr. Wright said the team will return to the island in August through to November.

Meanwhile, Chief Dental Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Irving McKenzie, told JIS News that students from the University of Technology of Jamaica (UTech) provided support to the visiting dental team.

“Our vision in the Ministry of Health is to provide greater care for the people of Jamaica, and with Great Shape’s mission to help those vulnerable populations that need dental and oral health care, and with UTech students being on board, they are gaining invaluable clinical experience, and they are also giving back to their community,” he stated.

In addition to the clinical services, the Great Shape team placed focus on prevention services, providing dental sealants and fluoride to children aged three to 12 years old at basic and primary schools.

The team also conducted oral health and a lunch time teeth brushing sessions at educational institutions.

Contact: Garfield L. Angus

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