“They use what?!”: Ida and Irene bust dental myths for brighter pearly whites

“Who else uses urine to treat cavities?”

Several people raised their hands in Bupeni village. Our Health and Spiritual Empowerment program manager, Ida Bazonoona, nodded in faux-agreement. She hoped to get a read on how prevalent the practice is in the community. Our staff knows that rumors circulate that urine is effective in dental treatment, but many community members are hesitant to admit it.


As community members put their hands down, Ida explained the many dangers of putting urine in the mouth and how it is not only useless against cavities but can actually make things worse.


To even begin talking about the importance of brushing teeth and other tools to prevent tooth decay, our staff must first dispel dangerous rumors that already exist. That’s why our staff needs a strong understanding of both contemporary science and the region’s history and culture.

Irene Ngobi is a big part of that. Irene is our newest staff member and a registered nurse. She has experience teaching rural communities about health and disease prevention.


When she stood up to talk to the Bupeni community about dental hygiene, all eyes were on her. She handed out toothbrushes and toothpaste to those who answered questions. She laughed, joked, and picked up a kid who wandered toward the front of the room mid-presentation. She dispelled rumors and provided actionable ways to improve dental hygiene.


The dental care situation in the villages of Busoga is dismal. The standard practice is to simply pull teeth that show signs of decay — without anaesthesia. That’s why prevention of tooth decay and proper dental hygiene are so important. If something goes wrong with your teeth, options are limited.  


Kibo as a whole has increased its focus on health and dental hygiene for one simple reason: It is a pressing need.

Our Life Skills Education and Counseling program teaches primary school children about the importance of dental care and demonstrates how to do it. Our Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene program points to ash in fire pits and teaches communities that ash is a viable alternative to toothpaste if the latter is too expensive. Our Empowerment program is incorporating dental hygiene into its curriculum more and more.


There are many painful parts of living in the village. Helping communities reduce some of that pain is an act of love spearheaded by our talented staff. After all, brighter smiles and a healthier community are why we love what we do. That’s the Kibo Way.