During a recent trip to visit my sister-in-law who was serving in the Peace Corps in El Salvador, we saw and experienced many things. Some things were expected like the prevailing living conditions, and some were pleasant surprises such how gorgeous the area was and just how generous and happy the people were. One of the more unexpected things we found was 12 year olds with rotting teeth and 25 year olds with mouths full of false teeth and silver capped teeth!
Being a very small and very remote mountain village, the poverty level and the access to resources makes preventative dental care unheard of. And dental visits, other than to patch up rotted teeth occasionally, are pretty much non-existent. This, combined with the prevailing starch-filled diet and omnipresent and very cheap ‘Cheez-Doodle’ type snacks (usually just 5-10 cents a bag!), dental health is a problem and also becomes a low priority for household budgets and attention.
Upon returning from the trip, I was trying to think of something I could do to help these wonderful people. Then, when walking through the corridors past one of our display cases, one way I could lend a hand became incredibly obvious; as a company we had discovered a way to make the benefits of mechanized brushing dental care accessible to the masses in the U.S. with the SpinBrush, the electric toothbrush. And it would be fitting if we could take that to the next step and bring it to this remote community in El Salvador.
Very quickly, John Nottingham and John Spirk jumped on board and we gathered up all of the brushes we could find, even the fun racecar and mermaid handled ones that are hard to get anymore, boxed them up and sent them over! It was great seeing the SpinBrush story move on to its next chapter. We had seen it through many other developments – rechargeable batteries, advanced brush head motions, and many different handle designs – and it is fun to see the story comes full circle in this latest employment and gets back to the original concept of affordable dental care in a simple package.
But, when we got the pictures of the children using their brushes (after first needing to be taught how to use them first by my sister-in-law and the area’s traveling government health care worker), all of that kind of took a back seat. Seeing their smiles was so very meaningful to us, and knowing that there is now the chance to keep those smiles healthy and filled with teeth for the years to come means the world to us.