Gabi, the social worker at the children’s hospital in Brasov, approached me regarding a new outpatient room that the hospital renovated for nonprofit organizations to come and provide free dental care for underprivileged children. Dental care is severely limited in poorer communities, especially in the Roma villages. I posted the need for dental teams to come serve in Romania on Facebook, and one of our past volunteers named Mary Lynne Mountjoy responded with informative information about babies who have been abandoned in the hospitals experience teeth decay at a higher level due to a lack of proper breast feeding from their mothers. Abandonment not only is detrimental to mental health, but also physical health. Below are some facts about this truth and we are asking for dentists who are willing to come to Romania and help repair damage that unfortunately started right after birth:
"The babies who are most at risk of abandonment or of being left in hospital for extended periods are those who have additional health needs. Preterm and low birth weight babies are at high risk because they may need to stay longer in hospital at birth, they often have feeding difficulties, and are at high risk for repeated infections. Many families, especially among the Roma, are simply not equipped to manage the added needs of a preterm or low birth weight baby. Formula feeding or safe bottle feeding of any substitute is not an option for these families due to cost, and rarely is there any help available to establish or maintain breastfeeding with small, weak, or ill infants, and so they are put at risk or severe malnutrition when at home. It may be impossible for the mother to stay in hospital with the baby due to the need to care for other children in the family, or to work to support them. Parents may fear that they will not be able to provide the care or medicines necessary for these vulnerable babies.
Higher rates of preterm labour and low birth weights are more common among poorer populations, and one reason for this is undoubtedly from an unexpected cause - poor oral health in the mother. Poor dental health is seen starting from a very early age, often due to unsuitable breast milk substitutes (sweetened tea) being introduced early on, and without any means to improve their oral health, the condition progresses as the child grows, and unhealthy milk teeth give way to unhealthy adult teeth. By early adulthood, many young women already suffer from advanced periodontal disease, a known cause of preterm births. When those young women become mothers, they are at high risk of having babies born too small, too early, and carrying on the cycle of abandonment. It stands to reason that the best way to remove this risk factor is to improve oral health early in life, during childhood, and prevent periodontal disease before it becomes a risk both to these young women and their future children. The problem of child abandonment is a complex and multi-faceted one, one that will only ever be halted by addressing the roots, and improving oral health among deprived children is one positive and definite way to care for both the present generation and the next."
If you are interested with assisting with dental care in Romania please contact: