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Fundraiser supports dental service trip to Belize

Jessica Deegan, News Editor

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Simple things, like functioning bathrooms, garbage pick up and running water are just a few things that some people from Belize do not have, and things that we take for granted, explained Colleen Volenberg, a former Madison College student who participated in the 2015 Belize mission trip.

For the fifth time, Madison College’s Dental Hygiene students fundraise for a fantastic cause. This year, nine second-year dental hygiene students will be participating in a trip to Belize to provide dental work for the community.

The Oral B Company allows Madison College to sell the “Genius” Bluetooth Premium powered toothbrushes for a greatly reduced price. With the entire community able to purchase these brushes, and 100 percent of profits going to the fundraiser, the dental department’s initial goal of raising $7,000 may not be too far away.

Proceeds go towards the students’ travel expenses, dental supplies, and anything else needed for the trip.

By purchasing the special Oral B toothbrushes, people are not only helping the students’ mission trip, but are increasing their own dental health.

The instructors said the students do an effective job of removing plaque bacteria from the teeth. Plaque bacteria grows on the teeth every day and if not removed, can lead to gum disease and cavities.

An elementary school in San Mateo, Ambergris Caye, Belize, is also home to the local dental clinic. That particular location needs an abundant amount of dental care and is a great opportunity for students to give back. Taking a trip like this allows students to experience cultural diversity in an impoverished country. They return with a changed and grateful attitude for all they have, explains Stone and Kloosterboer.

“The people of Belize showed us that no matter how bad you have it, be positive and genuine to all people, no matter of their gender, race, socioeconomic status, etc., ” said Volenberg, who participated in the trip as a student. “They thought they had the world even though they lived in the most minimalist lifestyle.”

“It was nothing compared to what we actually saw and experienced. Instead of lush green grass, they had garbage and debris scattered all around the house. They used wooden boards as walking paths over the scattered debris and the smell was that of a landfill on a hot summer day. On top of that, the people of the area rarely wore shoes because they didn’t have the funds to purchase any,” explained Volenberg.

While in Belize, students will perform dental cleanings, sealants, fluoride varnish and dental health education. One of the Madison College clinic dentists also goes on the trip so that they can provide fillings and extractions when needed.

In 2015, Volenberg explains that over the course of the week that they were there, roughly 200 sealants, 31 cleanings, and 400 fluoride treatments were provided and about 50 teeth were restored.

“The children were so welcoming and happy to see us,” said Volenberg. “Again, the simple things made their faces light up with joy. A simple toothbrush, toothpaste and floss seemed like we were giving them the world.”

Upon completion of travel, students will create a reflective journal of events, including a photo presentation and participate in a group discussion of the experience with other participants.

“I really found that documenting my time on my trip, whether it was with pictures or a journal really helped me be able to remember each step of the journey. Lessons learned, advice, and even quotes from the locals of that area are some of the best words of wisdom you will ever get,” said Volenberg.

Fundraiser details

  • Adult brushes: $65, with a $20 mail-in rebate (limit 2).
  • Kid brushes: $28, with no rebate.

Orders may be placed until 3 p.m. Nov. 28, by emailing Health Related Professions instructor, Heidi Stone or calling 608-258-2473. Sales are cash-only and are due upon ordering.

Visit www.wecleanteeth.org for photos from previous mission trips and journal entries from students.

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The news site of Madison Area Technical College
Fundraiser supports dental service trip to Belize