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Editions

Solar-powered chair to help dental care

06 Dec 2016

Solar-powered chair to help dental care Image

By Sunny Liu

Docklands resident Kim Groizard went on a backpacking trip to Cambodia a few years ago, which led her to an idea for a charity to provide portable dental chairs.

After visiting the rural regions of Cambodia and witnessing the poor health conditions that young children and adults lived in, Ms Groizard was determined to make a change.

Returning home, Ms Groizard and her husband sponsored some Cambodian children. But she did not feel it was enough.

“I just felt I had to do something more for the people there,” she said.

Having worked as a dental assistant, she is very concerned about Cambodian people’s oral health. Many of the villagers do not brush their teeth regularly and this would lead to some potential major health issues such as heart disease and cancers.

Ms Groizard says she faced depression and had suicidal thoughts earlier in her life but was able to overcome her mental health issues by engaging in rewarding activities.

“When I visited Cambodia and saw all the people living happily despite their disadvantage, all my problems just seemed so insignificant,” she said.

“I’ve never cried so much in my life when I saw what poor conditions they were in and that was a wake up moment for me.”

Ms Groizard wanted to bring basic dental care to some of the poorest areas in this developing country.

She founded Solar Smiles 18 month ago to provide dental health support for the people who need it the most.

With the support from the Docklands Rotary Club, she sourced two compact mobile dental chairs from the US to take to Cambodia.

The chairs weigh 15 kg each and can be set up within 60 seconds, making them ideal for the task.

The chairs are solar powered so no cords are needed for the operations and come with basic dental check-up equipment.

The backpack dental chairs play an important role in helping Ms Groizard realise her goal to improve dental health awareness and bring basic daily cleaning routines to Cambodia.

“Last time I went there I brought 100 toothbrushes with me and all the villagers were really excited to get the new toothbrushes,” she said. “Now with the compact dental chairs we can do more to help them get better dental support.”

Ms Groizard has purchased 20,000 toothbrushes and plans to bring some of them to Cambodia in the next Solar Smiles’ trip while selling the rest of them in Melbourne to raise funds.

“When someone buys one toothbrush, we donate 19 toothbrushes to people in Cambodia. We can make their dollar stretch and stretch. Even loose change can change people’s life,” she said.

Ms Groizard has recruited several dentists, health professionals and volunteers and the team is travelling to Cambodia this month to bring dental tools, services and education to children and adults in one of the poorest regions.

Among the team members is a local Cambodian dentist, whom Ms Groizard recruited to help introduce modern dental practices to the remote communities.

“We aim to tap into the local dental community in Cambodia and share the knowledge with the local dentists and community leaders to ensure they understand and reinforce the ideas,” she said.

The Solar Smiles team will also conduct follow ups and future trips to continue the initiative.

Solar Smiles is still looking for volunteers, including dentists and anyone interested in helping spread dental care practices. Please visit http://www.solarsmilesdentalcharity.com for more information.

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