Local Dentist Sends 288 Toothbrushes To Uganda

Sharon resident Dr. Robert Chavez, who has a Stoughton office, supports a former patient doing humanitarian work.

A Ugandan village has 288 toothbrushes partly thanks to Dr. Robert Chavez going to a Brockton McDonald's about three months ago.

Chavez says there, by chance, he met former patient and sterilization technician David Rice.

Rice told the Sharon resident and local dentist about the Ugandan Water Project, a humanitarian effort he was participating in for the second straight year.

"He said, 'I am going to Uganda.' And then I said, 'Wow. Why?' And he told me the story of Uganda and the fact that he had been in Uganda the year before, and felt so compelled to go back because of the accomplishments that he had achieved, and that he was going this time with a dental hygenist," Chavez said in his ARCH Orthodontics' Stoughton office last week.

"And so I asked him, 'Is there anything that I can do to help you?' And he said, 'We have no toothbrushes.' And so, I said, 'Would two gross (288 total) of toothbrushes work well for you?'

"He was overjoyed. He said, 'Two gross of toothbrushes?' He said, 'They have nothing. Whatever you can give would be great.' So I gave it to him."

Rice has since returned from his trip, Chavez said.


Why give away almost 300 toothbrushes? What was it about David's story that interested you?


It was a humanitarian effort on his part.

For us to supply the material for his success enabled us to have a vicarious thrill, a recognition that the children would be in a more helpful place, and that the trip would have a greater meaning, a more long-lasting meaning. And it's congruent with the way we've always felt about youth, having started the youth commission here in Stoughton almost 37 years ago.


What's it like seeing the smiling faces of the kids with the toothbrushes? It looks like the kids are really picking it up.


I'm not surprised, and thoroughly overjoyed that the concept of responsibility for taking care of themselves was supported, and that the education they received about why it was important can now lead to generations of health to benefit all people.

I'm wondering how many of these children will become medical individuals as time goes on, as a function of this small little seed that was planted.


Has this project that David did inspired you to look online and find out more about these kids and this part of the world?


I've traveled to Africa. I've traveled to Kenya and Tanzania. I've also traveled to Uganda with Operation Smile. That was in 2000, and we were part of the floating hospital, which was actually a 727 with five operating rooms. I was part of the team that provided cleft palate services.


You mentioned an interest in getting kids to brush their teeth. What have you noticed about kids today and their dental care? Do they seem interested in caring for their teeth?


Kids have been delightfully uniform over the four decades that I've been involved in dentistry. And the uniformity has to do with their developmental stages.

What I have noticed from the beginning to now is that dentistry has done a wonderful job in protecting the teeth from decay. When I first started, there was much more decay that had to be treated than there is today.

Howard Wiseman November 24, 2011 at 02:28 PM
Well Done Dr.! You are a power of example as usual.


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