Sonrisas sin Fronteras is a 501c3 foundation that makes sustainable dental treatment and education available to children in developing countries by equipping national dentists with portable clinics that are placed in public schools. Children receive complete care, instruction and materials free of cost.
The Sonrisas sin Fronteras program began in 2005, in Ocotal, Nicaragua, during a project to construct full dentures for improverished adults. Members of the Sonrisas sin Fronteras team also visited public schools, conducting visual examinations of the children to assess their dental needs. It was estimated that more than 80 percent of the children members saw in Ocotal needed immediate care. Children do not receive adequate dental care because of one or more factors: the lack of community dentists, the long distances they must travel to reach clinics, and the lack of finances. Sonrisas sin Fronteras team members identified the need for children's dental care in other developing countries as well.
The team's innovative treatment model was successfully tested in Tehuacan, Mexico, in January 2008. During a four-month period, 450 children were treated. Success was achieved by providing children access to dentists in state-of-the-art dental clinics.
The program frees parents from the problems of transportation, the burden of payment and the need to schedule appointments. The schools coordinate parental consent.
Following the early success of the program, Sonrisas sin Fronteras installed eight more clinics in both rural and urban schools in Mexico in 2009.
Our goal is to continue to add dental clinics to more schools each year and to expand the program to other developing countries. Dental care and education encourages children to develop life-long health habits that may prevent other dental-related conditions. Recent medical studies indicate that dental disease may be related to other health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and pancreatic cancer.