Through a partnership with the Sandals Foundation, the Great Shape! Inc. 1000 Smiles clinic, the world’s largest international humanitarian dental project, has provided free dental care to over 300,000 Caribbean nationals since 2003.
Following a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic, the Great Shape! Inc. team hopes to significantly increase that number when they return to Jamaica in August, even as they follow strict COVID-19 protocols.
With Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts providing accommodations and the charitable arm, the Sandals Foundation, offsetting the costs for transportation, food and beverage for the clinics and assisting to spearhead logistics, the team of dental care professionals, including experienced dentists, dental hygienists, final year dental students from the University of Technology (UTECH) as well as support staff, will kick-start the first of a series of two-week clinics at the Torrington Wesleyan Holiness Church on the outskirts of Savanna-La-Mar from August 22 to September 2 (weekdays).
“Great Shape! and the 1000 Smiles dental project is thrilled to be back in Jamaica working to serve the people of Jamaica who need care,” said Joseph Wright, founding executive director of Great Shape! Inc.
He noted that the impact of the work being done by his team and volunteers is profound because not only do they fix teeth and relieve suffering, but they are also changing people’s lives by improving their employability, their self-confidence and their social standing with a beautiful smile.
Heidi Clarke, executive director of Sandals Foundation, is elated about the resumption of the 1000 Smiles dental project in Jamaica.
“We are incredibly honoured to work with an organisation like Great Shape! Inc., which brings health and healing to the Caribbean’s frontlines. It has been two years since the last staging of the 1000 Smiles Project, so I am confident that the team coming here will make a significant difference for the people in the communities by giving them the opportunity to rediscover their smiles,” Clarke said.
Clarke also stated that the organisations are extremely grateful to the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their support over the years.
From August to November, the team will provide cleanings, fillings, extractions, and oral health education to adults and children in the Whitehouse, Negril, and Ocho Rios regions, using some of the best military-grade mobile equipment.
Dental sealants, thin coatings that, when painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars), can prevent cavities (tooth decay) for many years, will also be provided in the Ocho Rios region, allowing families who are unable to visit the dentist on a regular basis to protect their teeth for years to come.
This year’s clinic at the Torrington Wesleyan Holiness Church in Westmoreland will operate on an appointment-only basis, with each sitting accommodating up to 22 patients, as mandated by the GOJ to alleviate overcrowding at the clinic site.
Members of the public can schedule appointments by calling or texting (876) 863-7858 or (876) 402-6170. Individuals must provide their name, age, gender, and the procedure they wish to have performed.