A DENTIST AS A FRIEND
In partnership with: Associazione Arkè
Feeling awkward about smiling in public because you’re not confident about opening your mouth is not the best of feelings. Not only does it make mixing in social situations difficult, it’s also quite painful when you have problems with your teeth!
Building on the success of the A Dentist for a Friend project in Liguria, introduced to provide free dental care to vulnerable young people, it can now be rolled out in more Italian regions with funding provided by the Costa Crociere Foundation, who has set itself the mission of bringing positive change to towns and cities across Italy
Dental care is essential, but it is also expensive. Giving children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds access to free dental care can make a difference to their lives now and in the future. Unfortunately, dental care and dental hygiene are not always seen as essential medical priorities, and the public health service often struggles to fulfill the requests it receives. When this kind of care is sought privately, it can often be one of the biggest medical expenses in a family’s budget.
The upshot is that, given the difficult economic times we are experiencing, many families struggle to find the money to fund adequate dental care for their children.
Arké, a Dentist for a Friend, is moving in this context, taking action to assure children from disadvantaged financial backgrounds today don’t become adults with no teeth tomorrow; working hard to prevent the consequences that this would have on their health and future place in society.
Arké, a Dentist for a Friend, aims to provide free dental care for Italian native and non-native young children and teenagers, aged from 6 to 18, living in supported housing and from vulnerable families known to Social Services.
The project was established and developed autonomously in Liguria, and now thanks to the funding from Costa Crociere, it can be rolled out to more remote areas of Liguria and very quickly also to other regions of Italy.
The project began in 2000 in the province of Genoa, set up to provide essential free dental care to young people, aged 6 to 18, from vulnerable families or living in supported housing.
The project requires detailed planning and complex organization and administration to coordinate the many people involved, such as the dentists, orthodontists and dental hygienists offering their services on the one hand, and the social services and families of the children on the other.
In terms of outcomes, the numbers speak clearly: to date, thanks to the work of Arké , A Dentist for a Friend, around 1000 dentists have volunteered their services, free-of-charge, to look after the teeth of more than 4000 children in Liguria alone!
In such a difficult economic climate, these figures are considerable, given that fewer and fewer people can afford to play the high cost of dental care.
Buoyed by these results and with an eye to the future, Arké, A Dentist for a Friend, has set itself more ambitious targets, like rolling it out to other regions of Italy, starting Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta, Lombardy and Tuscany, which are closest to Liguria.
Thanks to the funding received from Costa Crociere Foundation, an extensive campaign will be organized to publicize the project and ra visibility in order to achieve three strategic objectives which will be key to its success: 1) finding new dentists and retaining those already involved; 2) informing and training welfare officers; 3) informing and training educational staff in supported housing or the children’s parents.
It will be long process to achieve these objectives, but the prospect of giving more people their radiant, dazzling smiles back will make it all the smoother.
As the great French novelist, Victor Hugo, said: “A smile is the same as sunshine; it banishes winter from the human countenance.”