In January 2013 our own Patient Coordinator Sarah Thomlinson headed over to Thailand on holiday. Not satisfied to simply relax and forget about work, Sarah contacted a school in Phuket about conducting some overseas dental volunteer work.
“Before embarking on my trip to Vietnam and Thailand, I spoke with David and Darryl regarding the charity work I wanted to do and whether they would be interested in supporting me,” said Sarah. “They pledged ‘as many toothbrushes/resources you need’ so I took off with several hundred toothbrushes, stickers and educational dental materials.”
Sarah contacted a school in Phuket, Thailand, which had over 400 students. She spoke to the children and staff about the best way to brush your teeth and the importance of good dental hygiene.
“I spoke minimal Thai and their English was just better than my Thai, so I took it slow and used lots of actions. I also took a Thai language version of a dental health handout on How to keep your teeth healthy just so the whole message wasn’t lost in translation.”
Along with the dental health handout Sarah also had translated information about herself, where she came from, how to clean teeth, the importance of dental health and the request to share this message with their families and friends.
“The Thai’s are famous for smiling so I asked them all to show me their beautiful smiles – and they did!” said Sarah.Thanks to Today’s Dentistry, Sarah was able to give each student a number of toothbrushes so they could pass these onto their family members. “I gave them the stickers with the message to stick them on your toothbrush so you know which one is yours!” said Sarah. Sarah received a welcoming reception from the staff and students, all grateful for the contribution to their community.
Dr Darryl Marsh, one of the partner dentists at Today’s Dentistry in Chermside, commended Sarah’s community spirit. “We are fortunate in Australia to access to high standards in dental education and health care. Others are not as lucky and we were impressed by Sarah’s initiative and drive to want to share these foundational dental lessons with these students in Thailand. Supporting her with dental materials was the least we could do.”