For some of us, going to the dentist for routine check-ups is a thing of the ordinary. But for many people around the world, especially those in impoverished areas, having their teeth checked simply isn’t possible.
Some individuals in the poorest third-world countries don’t even get a chance to own a toothbrush, much less see a dentist. When you aren’t even sure where to get your next meal, practicing good oral hygiene becomes insignificant. This Brazilian dentist Felipe Rossi aims to help them with that.
Felipe understands the predicament they’re under, so he decided to use his skills to help them with an area in their in their life that they had no choice but to neglect – their oral health.
The 38-year-old dentist travels to underprivileged communities to give individuals who can’t afford to have their teeth fixed a complete dental makeover. Aiming to bring bright and healthy smiles to the faces of people all over the world, Felipe does all of this work for free.
He formed an NGO called Por1sorriso to give free oral treatments to individuals with low incomes who require cleaning, root canals, fillings, crowns, restoration work and more. So far, he has given around 1,500 people a reason to smile wide and bright.
His team is composed of 4,000 registered volunteers who go with him on his trips to poor towns and villages. Felipe says that a typical five-day mission in Brazil costs around $5,000.
Sponsorship is generally provided by two private companies and, recently, the famous brand Colgate. Individuals may also make donations through the ‘Smile Solidarity’ program, where they can choose monthly amounts to contribute. Por1sorriso also holds regular fundraisers to be able to afford the cost of providing free dental services around the country.
As noble as its objective is, Felipe admits that Por1sorriso is “struggling to survive” because of the huge cost of providing dental work and the constant fundraising events they have to hold to keep the NGO afloat. After all, the assistance that his organization provides is “very different from projects where people simply get toothbrushes and toothpaste”.
“Awakening smiles, without business relationship, just for love, connects us with something bigger,” he said. “One day, [a] smile will be for everyone and tears will fall with joy, just for being able to smile.”
Felipe knows that giving people renewed confidence in themselves can literally change their lives.
“Our actions are worth more than words; building a better world is not done with syllables and verb conjugations. Doing is a transformative act,” he said.
Referring to Brazil, the dentist said: “The country with the largest number of dentists in the world also has one of the biggest social inequalities and segregating dentistry. Millions don’t know what sitting in a dental chair is like. It’s time to wake up … it’s time to smile.”
Aside from his home country, Felipe and his team have also visited Africa nine times.
Below are some of the most amazing transformations that Felipe and his ‘smile factory’ have provided to the people in Africa and Brazil.