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Project Details

Alli Kiru (Beautiful Teeth): Children's Oral Health & Nutrition Project in Pueblo Kichwa, Ecuador

Children learn about dental health
Project Summary: 

Alli Kiru (Beautiful Teeth): Children’s Oral Health and Nutrition Project in Pueblo Kichwa, Ecuador, aims to promote nutrition and oral health, and prevent tooth decay and malnutrition in young children.
Over recent decades in developing countries, including Ecuador, families have shifted from feeding young children the traditional diet to non-nutritious and sugary foods resulting in high rates of tooth decay, mouth pain, and difficulty eating, sleeping and playing. The project is a collaboration among UC Berkeley, Pueblo Kichwa leadership, and the Ecuadorean Ministries of Health and Education. We are working with Kichwa community health workers and children birth through age 6 and their families to test the effectiveness and acceptability of an innovative combination of low-cost and effective interventions—oral health and nutrition education, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental application of fluoride varnish—to improve children’s oral health and nutrition.

In 2016, the Global Children's Oral Health and Nutrition Project was featured in a special report by Scientific American: The Future of Oral Health.  

You can donate to the Alli Kiru program here.

Policy, Practice or Research Impacts: 

Tooth decay affects 50-95% of young children throughout the developing world, and has been increasing over recent decades with the increased marketing and consumption of non-nutritious and sugary foods. While dental experts have recognized tooth decay as an epidemic, it has been largely neglected by global nutrition and health initiatives. Some dental health promotion efforts have provided oral health education, toothbrushing and fluoride to children age 6-12 in schools, but oral health programs generally neglect children under 6 years—the critical time for children’s nutrition and development, as well as building lifelong health behaviors. This project aims to demonstrate that early promotion of oral health and nutrition and prevention of tooth decay (from birth through age 6) can significantly improve young children’s nutrition, health, development, and wellbeing.

Contact Person: 
Karen Sokal-Gutierrez, MD, MPH
Contact Person's Email Address:
Pueblo Kichwa de Rukullakta, Municipality of Archidona, Ecuadorean Ministry of Health Napo Province, Ecuadorean Ministry of Education Bilingual Education Network
University of California Pacific Rim Research Initiative; American Academy of Pediatrics; Lantern Projects; and donations of dental supplies from Sunstar, Patterson Dental, Global Grins, and many private dentists and individuals
Location - Countries: