21 Sep

Bristol dental students spread smiles in Peru

Dental students from Bristol are spreading smiles in Peru.

Holly Wilson and Wiktoria Rejniak, students from the University of Bristol, visited Peru this summer to teach children English but quickly discovered that they had other important skills to share. During the early stages of the duo’s trip, it became clear that the children, though very happy, had signs of dental health issues.

Holly said that the kids were excited to see them and they were running around playing all the time and full of smiles. They were happy but every time they smiled, Holly and Wiktoria got a glimpse of the symptoms and signs they had become so used to spotting during their studies and training back in Bristol. Children in the South American country don’t have access to routine dental care like they do in the UK and their oral hygiene is very poor. Many of the children had discoloured spots on their teeth and heavy staining. 

Holly and Wiktoria discovered that only 3 of the children from a group of 30 owned a toothbrush and decided to teach the kids how to clean their teeth as well as how to speak English.

They bought new brushes for everyone and started running fun, educational sessions, explaining how to brush in Spanish and encouraging the children to follow them with their own brush, using circular motions to clean the teeth. The kids had small group sessions with the pair to learn brushing skills and decorated their own brushes to make learning more fun. 

Holly and Wiktoria will be starting their third year at university this term and said the experience in Peru was “extremely rewarding.” They are hoping that they have inspired the children and other family members to keep brushing to reduce the risks of decay and gum disease.