The Build Your Smile Dental Foundation was born from the simple idea that progressive dental care shouldn’t only be a right afforded to those who can afford the luxury. It was on a mission trip to rural Uganda that Dr. Izchak Barzilay recognized this simple truth. ‘Why is it,’ he mused, ‘that one’s oral health should be determined by status or place of birth? Why is it that the availability should be lacking in an age where information is so readily available? Are these people any less deserving?’ And with that he committed himself and his team to give back on annual trips to Uganda. Each year the size of the team grew, along with the sponsors who identified with his vision.
The work that started in Uganda didn’t stay there. What began as simple extractions and education on how to maintain the teeth that were left evolved into innovating new technologies that provided the poor with new teeth – a new set of dentures made in a day. News spread throughout the Ugandan communities and it was not uncommon to hear of people walking for days to be treated in the next village. As the need grew, so did our local networks, and the Build Your Smile Dental Foundation expanded beyond care and into training dental officers on the ground in Uganda.
By this point, many members of Dr. Barzilay’s home practice, Prosthodontic Associates, had been involved with the Uganda missions – either in preparation in Toronto or on the ground in Africa. It remained troubling to some, however, that there remained vulnerable members of our own community who, while having many of our modern conveniences, were still lacking in adequate oral care. One particular subset were the women of Street Haven at the Crossroads, who, due to life’s uncertainties, had been left with difficulty smiling – perhaps both physically and emotionally. It became a mission around the office to help these women smile again – and often. Not only has this initiative led to multiple homeless women receiving full mouth restorations, the Build Your Smile Dental Foundation has provided dental supplies including toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss, and has organized clothing drives to supply clothing donations to the deserving women in Street Haven’s care.
What started out as a passion project has grown at a rate we could never have predicted. Along the way, the work of the Build Your Smile Dental Foundation has inspired not only the team at our local practice, but also many of our suppliers, providers, and educational partners who have been extraordinarily generous in donating their products, time, and team members to the cause.
We are continuing to grow and hope we can count on you to join us!
The Build Your Smile Dental Foundation grew from roots laid during multiple mission trips to Uganda. Beginning in 2014 members of the foundation began volunteering annually on trips designed to support KIHEFO, a local healthcare not-for-profit. Over the years, our team innovated new ways to improve oral health in the communities of Uganda, including education initiatives, tooth extractions, dentures-in-a-day, and dental implant procedures. Every treatment was offered in field medical settings that lack our Canadian comforts - including reliable electricity, sterilization, and running water. Despite the challenges, we are committed to providing the latest in dental technologies to each human that requires it.
With each mission, the reputation of the Build Your Smile team grew, and local Ugandans would trek from village to village to be treated by our staff. To this day we receive inquiries from these rural communities directly asking us to come back and tend to their oral care problems. We have developed a reputation in that part of the world for delivering top quality care, and we hope to expand our reach around the world.
We have recently embarked on a new partnership with local universities to provide education and training to local dental officers in Uganda. This training enables local oral care professionals to improve their skillsets and maintain a higher level of care for their patients.
The seeds for the Build Your Smile Dental Foundation were planted in 2013-2014 when the concept for same-day dentures was developed. The technology was born to serve the local population of the Talamanca Jungle on the Carribean coast of Costa Rica. During each mission, five days were spent in the jungle creating dentures using light-curing techniques that were further modified to be used in other geographic locations.
The lessons we learned in Costa Rica were further developed in Uganda, creating the innovative services we proudly offer today.
Kabale, Uganda, January 25 to February 8, 2020. Click here to register.