After a sleepless night, Sundus Shakoura arrived at the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Gaza to be treated for a cavity and a gum infection.
“Children dread a trip to the dentist,” explained her mother.
Dr. Zohair Barzaq confirmed: “The chair and tools are a bit scary for the little ones. Parents do not regularly take their children to the dentist in Gaza, so the experience is unfamiliar.”
At age seven, this was Sundus’ first trip to the dentist, and she was terrified by all the stories she’d heard from other kids about dentist visits. Fortunately, Anera had just delivered new, colorful toothbrushes from Smile Squared to the clinic with the aim of promoting health in Gaza. Dr. Barzaq was able to calm Sundus down with some counseling and a new bright pink toothbrush.
Children dread a trip to the dentist.
“The colorful toothbrush was a nice surprise and made her feel that a visit to the dentist might not be so bad after all,” said her mother.
Dr. Barzaq hopes these experiences will encourage parents of patients like Sundus to take their children to the dentist regularly for cleanings, instead of when they get to the point of having pain or developing a cavity.
Gaza Dentists Promote Good Oral Hygiene Habits
Meanwhile, at Al-Sahaba clinic—another recipient of the toothbrushes—young Omar was a bit more courageous than Sundus and allowed Dr. Yulia to examine his teeth right away.
Dr. Yulia promotes good oral hygiene practices through health education with each of her patients. After Omar’s filling, the dentist explained to Omar and his mother how important it is to keep his mouth clean and healthy. “Brushing should be done for two minutes in the morning and evening, and children should be shown how to do it right.”
She explained that using a circular motion that starts and finishes in the same place on each tooth is the best way to brush. Dr. Yulia also added, “Sugary drinks and any foods that contain sugar, not just sweets, should be avoided or eaten sparingly because they cause tooth decay. Parents need to help their children develop healthy eating habits.”
At the end of Omar’s visit, Dr. Yulia handed him a colorful, high-quality toothbrush, hoping that Omar won’t have to come back for another filling.
With a donation from Smile Squared through Anera’s Gaza in-kind program, 5,000 child-sized toothbrushes were shipped and distributed to children at five clinics around Gaza to promote good brushing practices and encourage oral hygiene. Smile Squared has a buy-one, give-on philosophy, so any time a Smile Squared toothbrush is purchased, they’ll send one to a child in need.
In addition to Al Sahaba and the Red Crescent Society, Anera delivered toothbrushes to the Society of Physically Handicapped People, the NECC clinic, and Caritas.