Teethsavers International began on a church mission trip to Belize, C.A. in March of 2000, where Dr Jack Rudd, DDS, FAGD, worked with the Belize Health Officials developing an oral health program and Rudd guaranteed them 26,000 toothbrushes. Later when Rudd was in the Gambia, a message came saying that 25,000 unclaimed toothbrushes were being sent to Belize. From that experience he went on to teach treat and evaluate oral health care in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sierra Leone and Zambia where he settled in late 2001. Rudd has been a full time volunteer paying his own expenses since March 2000.
Dr. Rudd's first six months in Zambia involved teaching ART (.Atraumatic Restorative Treatment) and Six-Year Molar Focus Prevention to 61 dental personnel at their clinics. This was followed by teaching, examining, and treating 19,655 children from 11 countries, in 316 square miles, Meheba Refugee Settlement. He recruited five dental therapists and trained eight refugees, teaching oral hygiene in 11 different languages, as dental assistants. After examination, 10,112 (52%) children required, on site, 15,276 ART sealants and fillings and 2,847 (28%) periodontal (gum and bone) disease treatment, which some 10% required medical collaboration.
Following this experience, Dr. Rudd saw the need for a new concept dental school to train locals, officially recognized by the Zambian government. Students were trained to teach oral hygiene and administer treatments for cavities and periodontal disease and to especially focus on the danger years ages 6, 7, 8 and 9 of the Six-Year Molars of children so they can have a chance for a healthy adult life. The Zambia Six-Year Molar Focus School in Chipata opened March 2003.
The Zambia Six-Year Molar Focus School had nine graduates, registered by the Medical Council of Zambia, the same Council that registers medical doctors and dentists. They are legal to practice in Zambia and the seven countries bordering Zambia.
Most of the graduates remain with Teethsavers clinical program which treats the poorest of the poor from the rural villages. The program stays out in the field five days a week, camping, teaching and treating village children in school and those who do not go to school, such as "the vulnerable girl child". 75,459 children in grades 1 - 4 have received oral hygiene instructions with a toothbrush and screening.
Of these, Teethsavers treated 21,372 (29%) with 18,883 ART sealants and restorations and 6,801 (32%) of those treated had periodontal disease cases of which some 60% were treated for periodontitis (advanced) with calculus which was scaled. The cost per child both taught and treated averaged K5,300 including 23,369 older children and 15,907 adults were taught only. 363 were referred to government clinics. The cost per child (donated) is about one-third the cost to extract a molar.
Man first walked on the moon in 1969 and many of Teethsavers children have never heard of a toothbrush!