Oral Health Preventative Services to Syrian Children Refugees in Reyhanli, Turkey.
The oral health initiative, Smiles for Syria, was launched in January 2020, to make a difference in improving the oral health of the children in Reyhanli, Turkey. The preventative measures have well established proven efficacy in other parts of the world. The oral health initiative, which is led by Dr. Samira Tayara, a dentist in UK, and in collaboration with a professor from Harvard University, was last held in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The dental clinic was running on a daily basis, and approximately 380 children, between the ages of 5 and 17, were seen, and received preventative dental treatment by trained UOSSM Turkey community health workers, under the supervision of a local dentist. The goal was to provide dental services to close to 1000 children in a period of 7 months.
The project has been very well received in Reyhanli with excellent verbal feedback being reported by parents of the children on a daily basis and a high demand for the services among the locals. There has also been great written feedback from the healthcare workers, who have indicated that “the training they received was very useful… and that they feel happy in being able to take part in preventing dental decay in children.”.
These measures will hopefully resume, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, to improve the children’s oral health and prevent dental problems in the future in a population that is already at high risk with limited access to dental care. Many children have never even owned a toothbrush.