Dental Hygiene students traveled to Belize to offer a prevention-oriented dental program for indigent children through “Project Smile”
#1262 | March 29, 2012
SAVANNAH – Six select senior students in Savannah Tech’s Dental Hygiene program travelled to Belize to provide prevention-based dental care for indigent children. As a participant in Project Smile, Savannah Tech students offered their services free of charge alongside two STC faculty members and Savannah dentist Dr. Steve Acuff, one of STC’s clinical supervising dentists and the president of Project Smile.
Project Smile began in 1992 as a cooperative effort between the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia and the Anglican Diocese of Belize, in Central America. It is a prevention-oriented dental program for indigent children at St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Church in Belize City. An unused classroom at St Mary’s School is home to a permanent seven-chair dental treatment facility. In March 2010, Project Smile opened a four-chair clinic in the mountains near Guatemala.
The clinic treats children ages four to 14 years through cleanings, fluoride treatments, fillings, and treating abscesses. Every child in the schools receives toothbrushes and toothpaste, which are used every day after lunch at school. Every Wednesday students receive a fluoride rinse given by trained adult volunteers.
In 2011 alone, there were five mission trips with five teams from Georgia including Savannah Tech students, Ohio, Colorado, Virginia. Many volunteers return home feeling that they received more benefits than they gave, according to Dr. Acuff. These teams served 588 patients, which would have been charged $229,449 in the U.S. for dental services. But, all services were provided free of charge to the children due to private donations. Since December 2002, Project Smile, Inc. has been a nonprofit corporation with a tax-free status as determined by the Internal Revenue Service in section 501 (c) (3).
Since 1999 Project Smile has expanded its dental program to include the children at:
St. Mary the Virgin Anglican School (all students plus fluoride rinse program); St. John’s Anglican Cathedral School where students are bused three miles (fluoride rinse also); Hattiesville School — bussed 40 miles; The Belize School for the Blind — bussed 90 miles; The Stella Maris Government School- for mentally and physically challenged; All Saints’ Anglican School (added 2003); Queen’s Square Primary School (added 2004); Cayo District School (added 2006); Succotz Town (added 2008).
Since 2010, volunteers participating in Project Smile qualified for continuing education credit for dentists and dental hygienists state licensure requirements in their respective states.
This is the fourth year Savannah Tech’s Dental Hygiene program has participated in this foreign study externship program, in conjunction with Project Smile’s clinic. Top senior students earned college credit while giving back to less fortunate people.
At the end of last summer, Project Smile had sponsored 57 missions completed more than 10,600 patient visits, provided toothbrushes, paste, and weekly fluoride rinses to all willing students in these schools. For more information about Project Smile visit: www.Project-Smile.com.
Graduates of Savannah Tech’s Dental Hygiene program receive an Associate of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene. The program utilizes a competitive admissions process. Students wishing to enter the Dental Hygiene program must complete an application packet by May 1 for admission to the Fall class. For more information about program admission, please contact STC’s Health Sciences Academic Advisor Heather Valentine (firstname.lastname@example.org or 912.443.5721).
Savannah Technical College serves Coastal Georgia with quality, market-driven technical education with campus locations in Savannah, Effingham and Liberty Counties. Serving more than 4,500 credit students each semester, Savannah Tech offers nearly 100 different instructional programs in Business and Technology, Public Service, Industrial Technology, and Health Sciences in addition to Adult Education classes, industry-specific training and continuing education. The College serves as an economic and community development partner for the region, offering corporate and customized training and assessment programs for business and industry. The College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award the associate degree.
For More Information Contact:
Amy Shaffer, APR
Savannah Technical College serves Coastal Georgia with quality, market-driven technical education with campus locations in Chatham, Effingham and Liberty Counties. Serving more than 10,000 credit and non-credit students annually, Savannah Tech offers nearly 150 different instructional programs in Aviation Technology, Business and Professional Services, Industrial Technology, and Health Sciences in addition to Adult Education classes, industry-specific training and continuing education. The College serves as an economic and community development partner for the region, offering corporate and customized training and assessment programs for business and industry.
Savannah Technical College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees, diplomas and technical certificates of credit. Questions about the accreditation of Savannah Technical College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (www.sacscoc.org).