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    Date submitted
  • 17-Sep-2017

Unspoken Smiles Fellowship

Abstract

Access, Quality, and Cost of professional dental care are severely lacking in many developing countries globally, where the most common dental treatment is the simple but extreme measure of tooth extraction. The Unspoken Smiles Foundation which, with its Unspoken Smiles Fellowship, is empowering women throughout the developing world. This program, open to women ages 18-35, trains them to become dental assistants "Fellows" through a condensed, five week-long course as well as a two-month-long internship. Supervised and trained by licensed dental professionals, this world-class curriculum educates the fellows in clinical, radiographic and administrative procedures, as well as how to operate the various instruments and equipment found in modern dental offices. But more than simple instruction, each fellow is assigned a Dentist and Dental Hygienist who functions as a mentor and provides personal and professional guidance as they navigate their new career. The benefits of this are many because not only are these women attaining a higher degree of educational and economic opportunity free of charge, but the denizens of these developing countries, who often have no access to dental care, are able to receive treatment on a consistent, local basis.

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Original YouTube URL: Open

Introduction Video

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Additional Questions

Who is your customer?

Our main customers are young women between the ages of 18-35 living in under-served communities around the world.

What problem does this idea/product solve or what market need does it serve?

The Problem -­ The serious long and short term impact of poor oral health, particularly for children (effect on over health and wellbeing, economic and social implications etc., with supporting statistics); -­ The barriers to accessing adequate dental care for the populations served by Unspoken Smiles (limited number of dentists, remote communities); -­ The limited number of well-­‐paying jobs for women in developing countries and the impact that this has on countries’ economies and attitudes towards women.

What attributes will make this idea/product successful? Why do you believe that those features will create success?

Attributes that make our idea successful: • A working model that creates a culture change around attitudes towards oral health by providing ongoing dental care and education in schools; • The training and placement of community oral health care professionals "Fellows" leading to improved oral health through earlier intervention, better oral health education, and access to care; • Breaking cycles of poverty and empowering women by providing fellowships to train young women as dental assistants; • Increased dignity for patients and Fellows through better oral health, well-paying jobs, and an elevated social status. With this project, we could enable an entire generation of children to have the lowest reported cases of tooth decay in history. This, along with the financial benefits of providing work for previously unemployed women will enable Unspoken Smiles to not only revolutionize the oral health and well-being of our target population, but to begin to tackle the gender disparity as well.

Explain how you (your team) will execute to make this idea/product successful? What gives you (your team) an advantage over others already in the market or new to this market?

In founding Unspoken Smiles Foundation, we never intended to engage in simple philanthropy. Instead, we wanted to use the shocking gap in dental care as a model of sustainable growth. Starting with the most remote communities in rural Haiti and Kurdistan, we have adopted a three-prong strategy to address this issue: Education, Treatment and Empowerment. Our unique oral health curriculum is implemented in local schools, which teaches children proper oral hygiene techniques at a young age, allowing it to become part of a daily (and lifelong) routine. The second is treatment, which sees a variety of world-class dental professionals’ travel to these communities and provide cleanings, examinations, sealants and treatments. But it is the third portion that truly illustrates the key to our innovative approach: The Unspoken Smiles Fellowship. With this program, women between the ages of 18-35 are trained to become dental assistants within their communities, which not only allows the residents to receive basic dental care, but the women are able to find steady employment.