With the largest volunteer dental programme in the world, Turma do Bem is on a mission to change the perception of oral health and dentistry, especially in low-income communities.
Focus: Children and Youth, Civic Participation, Health
Geographic Area of Impact: Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Paraguay, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Panama, Portugal
Model: Leveraged Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 22,000 (2011)
Annual Budget: US$ 1,028,000 (2011)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 1%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Brazil, 2006
In Brazil dentistry as a profession has little attraction, either for the patient or for those selecting a career in health. While Brazil trains approximately 13% of dentists worldwide, it does not have a comprehensive oral health policy. A great number of private clinics are concentrated in the richest regions, while dental services offered through the public health system are poor in quality and cannot meet demand. The vast majority of dentists, unlike medical doctors or lawyers, are also seldom involved in pro bono work.
Innovation and Activities
TdB is working to transform oral healthcare in Latin America and Portugal. Through its DENTISTA DO BEM (Dentist for Good) programme, children from low-income families are provided with free dental care until the age of 18. The programme selects young people in public schools located in more than 700 cities across 27 Brazilian states, Latin American countries and Portugal, for treatment if they are below the poverty line, seeking employment and have poor oral health. Today, DENTISTA DO BEM is the largest volunteer dentistry programme in the world, creating incentives for dentists who participate, including an office plaque identifying them as contributors to help those in need. They can participate in a ceremonial award for “The Best Dentist in The World”, given by the organization to the dentist that contributes the most. This recognition generates interest in joining the group. A main features of the business model is its effectiveness and high social return, with low cost. The office in Sao Paulo follows-up all cases and forwards the results to municipal coordinators, so dentists see how they are affecting the lives of these young people.
In addition to DENTISTA DO BEM, TdB has initiated a number of other projects. Dentista Verde (Green Dentist) aims to make dentistry more environmentally friendly. This includes saving water and electricity, and recycling disposable materials. Liga do Dentista Limpo (Dentist Clean League) aims to diffuse information and biosecurity practices for the volunteers and dental classes. It was created with guidance on how to improve the routine procedures for cleaning, disinfection and sterilization.
Assistentes do Bem (Assistant for Good) provides a technical course in Dental Assistance to the beneficiaries of the project Dentista do Bem. The course is a way to offer a profession that can increase family income. It closes the dental treatment cycle, and can include these young people in the labour market.
Since 2006, six documentaries have been made by TdB to show the poor situation and lack of resources in oral healthcare in Brazil, as well as the important work being done by DENTISTA DO BEM to change the situation. TdB mobilization activities and its network of dentists try to change public policies by distributing oral hygiene kits, encouraging the production of generic toothpaste, and others. TdB want poor people to have access to the only drugs of a dentist: toothpaste, toothbrush and dental floss.
Fábio Bibancos is a Brazilian dentist, President of the Instituto Bibancos de Odontologia, a social entrepreneur and author of four books on dentistry. His business is a renowned and respected multidisciplinary clinical dentistry in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and the first clinic in Latin America to win the ISO 9001 Certificate of Quality, since 2000. He founded TdB in 2002, and is the volunteer President and leader of the NGO. Since 1997 he has worked in the non-profit sector, using his capacity to convince dentists that they can transform the lives of millions of poor people by simply applying their skills.