My name is Denise Klatchoian, I have been a pediatric dentist in Sao Paulo, Brazil for 37 years. I also volunteer for the HAND IN HAND Organization.
My first visit to Armenia was at the invitation of Professor Robert Bagramian of the University of Michigan and American University of Armenia (AUA). I have visited Armenia on 3 occasions (in the years 2010-2011) and have witnessed the severity of oral health issues suffered by children in rural areas, particularly Voskehask, in Gumry region.
Dental cavities are an alarming issue in Armenian villages. Screenings performed in kindergartens and primary schools revealed that almost all children have dental cavities. Most have at least 10 teeth affected, including newly erupted molars. I wanted to help, but didn’t know how.
I knew that in Armenia there were Hand Washing Stations in some schools. I particularly liked the ones offered by COAF- Children of the Armenian Fund.
This gave me the idea of having Teeth Brushing Stations.
In Brazil these are called BRUSHODROMES – a place specially designed to teach oral hygiene. They are offered in schools and clinics.
Brushodromes began as part of the national oral health initiative known as “Smiling Brazil” (“Brasil Sorridente”) in 2004.
Brazil is the only country in the world to provide a universal health care system, designed to guarantee delivery of all levels of health care, free of charge, to a population of over 200 million through a unified health system (“Sistema Único de Saúde” – SUS). As part of this system, the brushodromes were designed to address oral health. Oral health ranked in the top four priority areas of health concerns in the country.
I know that Armenia has huge difficulties with water supply. But when I saw the Hand Washing Stations, I thought: why not add Brushodromes, making it very simple to promote both hand washing and teeth cleaning? If we could have one of these stations per school, the overall health improvements would be enormous.
Having worked in the Colgate Prevention Clinic at the University of Sao Paulo, I was able to use their design specifications for Brushodromes in Armenia.
Of course, the Colgate facilities needed adapting to make it a reality in Armenia. But as Walt Disney once said: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” The COAF Group liked the Brushodrome idea!
In October I sent blueprints and pictures and by January the Brushodrome at Karakert school was ready! To date, we have built 6 Brushodromes.