How does a humble attitude contribute to the global smile counter? If we can understand that connection, between Humility and Smiles, we can understand the huge multilateral effort and commitment made by all those actively involved in our Humble Story.
The Humble Smile Foundation is at its core a group of dental professionals who recognize that as good as their knowledge, skills and experience are, they will never be able to restore diseased oral tissues to the original pre-disease condition. The highest form of care they can offer is, therefore, preventive. Prevention requires dental professionals to be humble in going about their treatment: aiming for minimal intervention and maximal preservation. No smile is as healthy as a Humble Smile – untouched by disease or dentistry.
Dentistry, the distribution of dental services around the world, follows the money. This is understandable as dentists must earn a living and pay back high tuition fees. Dentists, therefore, will prefer to practice where patients have money to pay for their services. This is why there are plenty of dental clinics in cities, but a deficiency in rural areas. Humble Smile Foundation offers the dental profession a platform from which to care for those in less fortunate or more remote places – bringing some humility back to the smile profession. Dental student volunteers return to serve their own communities in a more holistic way.
Humble Smile teams seek out communities where children have high levels of oral disease and low levels of access to dental care. The disparity between the need for oral care and the dental services available, which we call unmet needs, has not always been the case in these communities. Levels of child tooth decay, such as 75-95% prevalence, are relatively new phenomena, due to dietary transition. It’s not surprising to find children with blackened smiles in places where cola is cheaper and safer than water. Our aim in these communities is to promote oral health by inspiring confidence in traditional diets while resisting the attractive marketing of processed products, and by improving upstream policies that will encourage healthy behaviours. It’s not about replicating the advanced dental care of the cities, nor educating from a position of superior knowledge. Rather, our teams spend time in the communities learning about the way people live before advocating cost-effective and culturally-sensitive lifestyle adjustments.
Our Humble Smile teams often bring oral care products to communities that don’t even have toothbrushes. We will not introduce plastics and the plastic pollution caused by the massive production and disposal of hard plastic toothbrushes. We are proud to be supported by The Humble Co., manufacturer of evidence-based, eco-friendly consumer oral care products. By offering consumers the opportunity to carry out their daily oral hygiene routine without harming the planet, The Humble Co. aims to spread a humble attitude about our place within our ecology.
The last thing we want to do is to upset the economy of a single home or community. We steadfastly resist participation in the quick-fix hand-out culture that stifles developing economies throughout the world. Humble economic conduct at project sites aims to empower local partners and encourage local development. At the same time, robust corporate institutions are encouraged to partner vulnerable communities in mutually beneficial ways. Gogos Give Smiles is our flagship project in Africa and living proof of these concepts.
The vision shared by all people involved in the Humble Movement, from the American consumer buying a Humble Brush to the European dental student volunteering in Africa, is for healthy people in a healthy planet. To this end, scientifically sound products and procedures are developed with minimal economic and environmental footprints. Humble Smile Foundation’s role within this vision is to develop and share effective models of oral health promotion suitable for each vulnerable community according to its particular set of needs, circumstances and visions. An open and humble approach is what enables us to design and test models, study them methodically, and ultimately share as best practices, for the benefit of underserved people most in need of disease prevention, and smile preservation.
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them – A. Einstein
We are not saviours, nor are we humanitarians. We are just dental professionals who love a profession that has so far failed most of the world’s population. Armed with innovative preventive initiatives, scientific process and professional commitment, we are taking our struggle with tooth decay to the front lines, respectful of local culture and careful of environmental and economic collateral damage. Others have joined – investing time, skills, infrastructure or finances.
How will you become a part of our Humble Smile revolution?