Humble Smiling in Kosovo

By Besa Begu (Kosovo)

Responsible dentistry impacts both the oral health of everyone on the planet through an inclusive approach, and the environment itself. The amazing work of Humble Smile Foundation in this respect has inspired me and provided me with the resources to do my part in Kosovo towards fulfilling this vision.

Working with patients to have bright and healthy smiles and promoting oral health care are key driving forces for me as a dental professional in Kosovo. Undertaking such a mission in a country where, for a long time, proper preventive dental care system was lacking, and is only now beginning to establish such practice, was a huge yet fulfilling challenge. More so considering that my first project in 2002 involved children in a post war Kosovo. I implemented that project thanks to a scholarship from the Swedish Dental Hygienist Association. It was a turning point in my professional journey as that was when I fully realized how access to proper oral health care – or lack thereof – affects all. So, my mission onwards would not be just about healthy teeth but also a bright SMILE for everyone!

That is why I decided to move back to Kosovo from Sweden. As the first dental hygienist promoting oral health in Kosovo, for many years I pursued this mission on my own, including own financial contribution. In 2019, another chance encounter transformed my professional journey. While visiting the International Dental Show in Cologne, Germany, I met with the President of the Humble Smile Foundation and their story captured my heart right away. It felt like HOME. The President spoke the words that infused my journey with more purpose “Maybe you can be our first Dental Hygienist ambassador.” The opportunity of becoming part of a like-minded community and joining their noble mission made me realize I was no longer alone in my work in Kosovo.

Thanks to the Humble Smile Foundation support, guidance, and mentoring, I have been able to implement meaningful projects in Kosovo. Some of these projects I had started years ago, and the foundation’s amazing support brought them to full-fledged fruition. Lives have changed for the better through proper oral health care and better information. Our work in Kosovo confirms strongly that oral health promotion contributes to better overall health. There is still a long way to go but I am positive that we are progressing towards a better future, thanks to the unwavering support and guidance that I have from HSF. Being part of such a big foundation and having their support makes my mission to promote oral health easier and provides me with the right resources. I am amazed and impressed by their professional work. I am so grateful for their immediate support with Humble Brushes. Just as important is their continued support in building capacities for creating the new generation of oral health promoters.