Sandals’ Great Shape 1000 Smiles dental clinic returns to Ocho Rios | News

Despite the threat of daily rain amid searing heat, residents of Eltham, St Ann and others from nearby communities such as Content, Exchange and beyond, this past week welcomed the return of Great Shape! Inc 1000 Smiles clinic.

An annual partnership with the Sandals Foundation, which was disrupted in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, United States-based Great Shape! Inc 1000 Smiles is the world’s largest international humanitarian dental project, providing free care to more than 300,000 Caribbean nationals since 2003.

From August to November, the team will provide cleaning, fillings, extractions, and oral-health education to adults and children in the Whitehouse, Negril, and Ocho Rios regions.

At Eltham Community Centre dental clinic, 67 volunteers alongside local dental hygienists, final-year dental students from the University of Technology, Jamaica, as well as support staff, provided dental services.

Observation of COVID-19 protocols made the services far more streamlined, utilising a call-in appointment system, as opposed to residents queuing from as early as 6 a.m.

Lyndsay Isaacs, regional public relations manager, Sandals Ocho Rios, said the appointment system went great at the clinic, Phase One ending on Friday, with the second leg set for the end of October.

“We have been getting up to 400 persons calling in to make appointments on a daily basis,” Isaacs said.

Sandals and Beaches Resorts provided accommodation for the volunteers and the resort chain’s charitable arm – the Sandals Foundation – offsets the costs for transportation, food and beverages for the clinics.

“It is our commitment as an organisation to increase access to the critical healthcare services needed by every member of the family to support their well-being. The 1000 Smiles programme of Great Shape! Inc has been, for many, an integral part of their health plan and, as a foundation, we will continue to use the strength of our local and international network to serve and inspire hope,” Heidi Clarke, executive director, Sandals Foundation said.

Great Shape! Inc 1000 Smiles also provided dental sealants – thin coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars) – which provide protection against cavities, a great assist for families who are unable to visit a dentist on a regular basis.

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