‘Toothbrushers and Balaam’s Donkey’ aims to bring better dental care to people in need
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - An organization said all people deserve proper oral care, and some with disabilities or who are elderly aren’t getting it.
“It’s tragic that when someone can’t brush their teeth,” Anita Siddall, founder of Toothbrushers and Balaam’s Donkey, said. “Most people that are born disabled have half of their teeth pulled before they are 30.”
Siddall, a hygienist of 35 years, started the nonprofit in 2018 with the family’s pet donkey, Jack, as the mascot. Her nonprofit goes into care facilities and brushes the teeth of the people in need to ensure they’re getting the proper care. Jack comes along to spread a smile.
She said they recruit college and high school kids to get an oral care aid certificate to be qualified to help clean teeth.
“A lot of people that have Alzheimer’s and dementia have gorgeous teeth that they’re very proud of, but those diseases make it very difficult to keep up with the proper care,” Siddall said.
The organization has moved to a more research-based approach for now as they work to get funding for supplies and the cost of the certificates, but they have bigger goals for the future,
“We’re creating a care initiative with a curriculum because our goal is to go nationwide,” Siddall said. “We want to learn how to do this well with results and how we can link it together.”
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