Dental Cleanliness is next to Godliness

Written by Plant With Purpose on August 11, 2011 in General

By Aly Lewis

Photo by Scott Bennett

Circle. Circle. Swirl. Spit. 

Confession time: I love flossing. If I don’t floss before bed I have nightmares of plaque and gingivitis taking over my mouth—if I can even fall asleep. Seriously.

My love of dental hygiene grew from a hatred of anything less than perfection. When I was 11, I received a report card from my pediatric dentist with red ink scrawled over the areas I’d missed in a big gaping mouth diagram.  Next to the plaque inkblots was my tooth brushing score:  a 60%.


That’s a D in real life!!! And these weren’t even my baby teeth! How could I accept any less than 100% for my smile?

But many children around the world don’t have a choice. They don’t have access to tooth brushes or toothpaste. Much less floss or dentists or the colorful goody bags I got from my dentist as a kid. 

All of my pearly white vanity aside, dental hygiene is a big issue. Poor dental hygiene can lead to gum disease, chronic inflammation, and even increased risk of heart attack and other medical complications.

Now what does dental hygiene have to do with Plant With Purpose? Trees don’t have teeth. We say “Trees Please,” not “say Cheese Please,” right? 

Today I’d like to tell you more about one of my favorite Plant With Purpose programs. Dental Brigades. That’s right, brigades.

No, no these dental brigades aren’t little armies of marching teeth. Or even regiments of soldiers wielding tooth brushes in the fight against bad breath.

In our program in Oaxaca, Mexico we organize dental hygiene campaigns called dental brigades as a part of our mission to promote holistic community health and development. 

For these projects, Plant With Purpose teams up with local health clinics to provide the families we serve access to dental health care. Through these traveling dental clinics, thousands of families have received dental care.

One father, Rodolfo, (on the right in the picture above), speaks of his experience with Plant With Purpose, “The first project with Plant With Purpose was the cistern, then stoves, then ten families built latrines, and then chicken projects. We also get dental care from Plant With Purpose. The church is growing and that is its purpose – to spread the word of God.”

Saying dental cleanliness is next to godliness may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I do believe we can show God’s love through dental care. And that’s something to smile about. 

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