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A Dentist as a friend

Putting a smile on a child’s face is a priceless joy
We provide free dental and preventive care for the oral hygiene of vulnerable children.

The results

  • Young beneficiaries
  • Volunteer dentists
  • Dental hygiene practices
  • Italian regions involved
Liguria, Piedmont, Val d’Aosta, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Veneto
2016
2019
Liguria, Piedmont, Val d’Aosta, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Veneto

In collaboration with: Associazione Arkè Onlus

THE CHALLENGE: good oral health is essential for social inclusion

Dental and preventive care are fundamental to everyone’s health and wellbeing, but often they are not perceived as priority medical needs.
While public health is struggling to adequately respond to the growing demand, the use of private practices is amongst the biggest medical expenses a family incurs.
Thus, dental care is a problem for many families experiencing financial hardship and that struggle to access the resources enabling their children to get adequate care.
A renouncement that not only has immediate consequences on the oral health of the children, but over time will have medical and social repercussions.
Giving children and young people from vulnerable socio-economic backgrounds access to free dental care affects not just their present, but more importantly, their future.

THE GOAL: to treat vulnerable children’s smiles fairly

A Dentist as a Friend delivers dental assistance to minors from families experiencing financial hardship by connecting dentists, social services and families.
The aim is to ensure free dental and preventive care for the oral health of Italian and foreign children and youths between the ages of 6 and 18, who are placed in care or from vulnerable families flagged by social services.

OUR PROJECT: to involve dentists in volunteering their skills for vulnerable children

A Dentist as a Friend is a valuable investment in the children and youths who benefit from free dental care through the many dentists participating in the project.
This pilot project, which is unique in Italy from an organisational point of view, required complex planning, management and administration; it began and was widely-spread throughout Liguria, then brought to Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Veneto.
The project benefits children and youths from families experiencing socio-economic hardship or flagged by social services, as well as minors placed in care or in community care homes.
Adding to the financial challenges are cultural and societal issues, resulting in many not viewing oral hygiene as important, not following a healthy diet or having regular check-ups.
In this context, the Costa Crociere Foundation’s support has focussed on a huge outreach campaign aimed at fulfilling the strategic objectives required to develop the project, by acting across several fronts and inspire different stakeholders.
On one hand, was the search for dentists and their commitment to the project, followed by informing and training social workers and educators within the system, and finally raising awareness and educating the patients’ families.
The results speak to an exceptional commitment amongst the many dentists, hygienists and assistants, who volunteer their professional services free of charge.
Currently, in the region of Liguria alone, there are over 1000 dentists treating over 2000 minors for free, providing all the necessary dental and preventive care for their oral health.
Giving all these children and young people a smile that will last over time.

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