Helping to export smiles to the streets of Uganda

Laureen Gallagher in Uganda
Laureen Gallagher in Uganda

Two dental professionals from Bishopbriggs have helped to improve oral health in Uganda after they volunteered with the international charity Dentaid.

Laureen Gallagher, a practice manager, and hygienist Jacqui McNair from One Eighty Dental, spent two weeks in Uganda treating hundreds of patients who have no other access to dental care.

The team visited an orphanage, prisons, remote communities, slum areas and schools providing oral health education and emergency dental treatment.

The team also went to remote islands where many people had never seen a dentist before and offered lessons in toothbrushing and oral care to thousands of children.

Laureen said: “The welcome we received was amazing – they were so happy to see us.

“The people we met had very little but they were so friendly and positive.

“All the children wanted to hold our hands.

“It was upsetting seeing children who had many dental issues but we helped them as much as we could.

“Many of them don’t have toothbrushes and only use sticks to clean their teeth.

“They are given sugar cane as a treat but aren’t aware of the damage it can cause their teeth so education is very important too.”

This is the first time Laureen and Jacqui have volunteered overseas and patients at their practice – formerly known as Oak Tree Dental – helped them raise more than £4,000 to fund their trip.

Events they arranged included open day, quiz night, Halloween party and dress up days.

Laureen’s boyfriend Dave Farries also shaved off his beard to raise another £600 for the charity.

Jacqui added: “It’s been a real team effort.

“Our community and patients really got behind us and the team in Uganda was fantastic too.

“It was a real eye-opener being there and working in places with no electricity or running water.

“However, we’re so glad that we had this opportunity.”

Dentaid was formed 20 years ago and has worked in more than 70 countries offering dental care, equipment, training and education for people who have very limited access to dentistry.

To find out more about Dentaid visit www.dentaid.org.