Provide oral health care and education in Colombia

Funding required: $69,570

This project will help: 1,300 children

Estimated Completion date: March 2025

Country: Colombia

Executive summary

Oral health is an important component of a child’s overall physical health and well-being. However, families experiencing poverty do not have access to adequate dental health services and programs. In Córdoba 1 and 3 areas of Colombia, Compassion works alongside 24 frontline church partners to serve thousands of children and youth, as well as 1,300 children age three to five years old. These communities have a high rate of cavities and other oral health problems among young children.

Several factors contribute to poor oral health in the Córdoba regions. Many caregivers themselves have never been educated on healthy dental hygiene and are unable to pass on that knowledge to their children. Some caregivers also believe that oral hygiene does not matter in young children because baby teeth will fall out eventually. As a result, children are not taught how to effectively brush their teeth and are not encouraged to regularly brush and floss. A lack of dental services in the region and the high cost of dental care prevents many families from accessing these services at all.

The lack of education on oral health and inadequate access to dental care services has had a devastating impact on young children. Compassion’s church partners have been providing children with dental checkups and have been working hard to educate children on good oral hygiene. Still, they feel more must be done to combat this prevalent challenge. Church staff report that many children develop at least one cavity by age 2, and 62 per cent of children have gingivitis. They have also found that poor diets low in nutritious foods and high in sugary drinks are also contributing to poor oral health. Without access to improved oral health care services, education and regular cleanings, children growing up in the Córdoba areas may face a lifetime of oral health problems including persistent tooth pain, tooth decay and loss and abscesses or infections.

With your support, 24 frontline church partners will provide dental health care to 1,300 registered children age 3 to 5 who have require dental care due to severe tooth pain. They will also receive any necessary interventions, such as fillings or gingivitis treatments as well as fluoride treatments. Children and caregivers will participate in education sessions to promote healthy oral hygiene practices and children will each receive an oral hygiene kit containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, a cup for rinsing and floss. This intervention aims to restore healthy smiles and self-esteem to these young children.



For the last 25 years, Compassion has worked alongside 24 frontline church partners in the Córdoba 1 and 3 areas of Colombia. In these communities, many children and adults do not have access to health care services, including dental health care. During childhood, oral care is the least frequently met form of health care, yet early childhood is a crucial period for establishing healthy oral hygiene practices and habits.

Oral health impacts all areas of a child’s life and development, including their physical growth and nutrition, language development, self-esteem and overall well-being. The World Health Organization (WHO) has outlined age 5 as the standard year to ensure the children within a population are practising healthy oral hygiene habits. Because the first six years of a child’s life are so important for cognitive, emotional, social and physical development, it is vital that young children not only understand the importance of oral health but regularly practise good habits.

The need

Young children in the Córdoba 1 and 3 areas of Colombia urgently need access to dental health services. Without it, their future is at risk. Poverty is a significant factor in the increased consumption of sugary foods and drinks, contributing to the cycle of poor oral health. Children’s mouths are often too sore to eat, exacerbating the problem of malnutrition. Sadly, many children are embarrassed by their teeth and refuse to smile.

Your gift will provide young children with oral health care, including checkups from mobile dental services, as well as teeth cleanings; fluoride treatments; and interventions to fix tooth issues, cavities, gingivitis and other dental diseases from local oral health care providers. These children have already experienced dental problems such as severe tooth pain and are at high-risk of developing more serious issues as they grow up. But your support will allow them to access these services at a crucial point in their development.

Each child will also receive an oral hygiene kit containing everything children need for daily tooth brushing and flossing. It will also provide caregivers with vital oral hygiene education on topics such as proper tooth brushing techniques, how to floss and the importance of regular dental health care. Caregivers will learn how food choices impact oral health and how to choose nutritious options that will help strengthen teeth and bones. They will be able to encourage their children to apply what they have learned and practise good oral hygiene habits daily. This intervention will allow children to be happy and build their self-esteem, which they will show with their healthy smiles.

What your gift will do

Your gift will provide 1,300 children age 3 to 5 from 24 Compassion centres in Córdoba 1 and 3 areas in Colombia, with access to oral health care services, including:

  • Oral health workshops
    • 9 professional workshops for children
    • 9 professional workshops for caregivers
    • Nutritious lunch boxes for students
    • Hygiene kits (containing a cup, toothpaste, floss and toothbrushes)
    • Snacks
    • Workshop materials
  • Dental examinations
    • Preventive treatment and cleaning
    • Fluoride treatment
  • Dental treatment
    • Treatment for dental issues (cavities and root canals)
    • Transportation to dental facilities
  • Monitoring and evaluation
    • Health advisor home visits


  • Local contribution: US$3,783.21
  • Handling of funds: Compassion Colombia will work with church and centre leadership to ensure this project stays within budget.
  • Monitoring and follow-up: Compassion centre staff will monitor the children and caregivers during the trainings. Health advisors will conduct follow-up home visits with each family to ensure they are putting what they have learned into practice.

No less than 80 per cent of your donation will be used for program activities and a maximum of 20 per cent for fundraising and administration. If we exceed our funding goal for the initiative shown, the remaining funds will be used to fund other programs where the need is greatest.