While touring in public schools after the launch of his first book “Um Sorriso Feliz para Seu Filho” (A Happy Smile for Your Child) in 1995, Dr Fabio Bibancos realized that lower income families had extremely limited access to dental services. By the time children were taken to public dental clinics, they had already lost many teeth and had very poor oral health. Many were not able to get reconstructive treatment. Dr Bibancos also realized the impact these conditions had on teenagers’ livelihoods and productivity. Teenagers became insecure, isolated, and many were not able to get jobs.
The organization runs the program Dentista do Bem, which coordinates the work of volunteer dentists. The activities of the organization has been replicated through 9 countries in Latin America and Europe (Portugal.)
The program targets low income children and teenagers living in poor neighbourhoods. Patients are selected at 5th to 8th grade schools and other institutions in Brazil (11 to 17 years of age), and given preference according to treatment urgency, income levels and how close they are to getting their first job.
Treatment takes place at the volunteer dentist’s office. Patients receive oral care, reconstruction, preventive and educative information. Patients receive free care until they are 18 years old. The cost of care is absorbed by the participating dentist who generally has an average of between 15 and 30 paying patients a day. One of the main features of the business model is its cost-effectiveness and high social return.
Dentista do Bem creates specific incentives for dentists who agree to participate in the network, including placing a plaque at the entrance of their office identifying that they are contributing their skills to help those in need. This public recognition effectively generates interest in joining the group.
The organization keeps patient data centralized, and keeps the connection between patients, family, school, and the dentist. The central office in São Paulo also provides follow-up for all cases, which is then sent to the municipal coordinator so that all dentists know how they are affecting the lives of low-income youth.
More than 200,000 children have utilized our oral examination in 2010. From those exams, 4000 received a total free treatment until have completed 18 years old.
Reported results available.