Dental care is a major un-met health need of refugee children.
Many refugee children have never received oral health care or been exposed to common preventive oral health measures, such as toothbrushes, fluoridated toothpaste, or fluoridated water. One study* in refugee populations showed that in under 10 year olds, 75% had cavities (caries) in both their baby teeth and their new adult teeth.
It is not surprising that in Malaysia, undocumented and refugee families face significant obstacles to accessing dental care for both adults and children.
As part of the holistic care provided by ElShaddai, we aim to support besides academic learning and care for the whole child, family and community. Preventative health education is vital for these children as they can proactively care for their own bodies as well as establish healthy habits in their families.
Recently, some teachers and a group of medical outreach staﬀ collaborated to provide primary health care to a small group of students at one of our learning centres. We started about sharing tips on good oral health. We introduced the diﬀerent parts of the mouth and how to keep them strong and health. In addition, we shared tips about healthy eating. To engage the students further, we used a fun learning activity to get them to try out their brushing techniques. Ingeniously, we used toothbrushes and toothpaste to remove dye from hard boiled eggs.
With the aid of generous donors, we were able to provide the children and their siblings with new toothbrushes and toothpaste. This is to encourage them to practice what they have learnt at home and also to share their newly acquired knowledge with their families.
“Preventative health education is vital for these children as they can proactively care for their own bodies as well as establish healthy habits in their families.