The Chernobyl Children’s Life Line is an ongoing project founded in 1991 with a mission to support children affected by the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The charity brings these children – the descendants of people directly affected by the disaster – to the UK for a four-week recuperative break. The Bridgford Dental Practice became involved 10 years ago and since then, approximately 100 children have received dental care at our facility, including the latest visit in July 2014.
Although the Chernobyl disaster took place in 1986, an estimated 80,000 children today are at greater risk of cancer, blood disorders and changes to their immune systems because of it. Many more problems are being discovered as time progresses and more people connected to the disaster die annually than are being born.
Many of the children come from poor backgrounds, difficult domestic situations, extreme poverty and social hardships. It is estimated that a four-week visit, eating fresh food, breathing fresh air and having health checks, including dental, recharges their immune system and gives them an extra four years of life.
Bridgford Dental Practice was initially approached by a patient directly involved with the Chernobyl Children Life Line. On hearing of the benefits the project offered to these children, the then-owner of the practice, Dr. Andrew Brenan, agreed to give up one morning to check the children’s health and complete any simple treatment required on the day.
Most of the children have inadequate diets due to lack of fresh food, which cannot be grown in the area due to nuclear fallout. Consequently their health and dentition is at risk.
Bridgford Dental Practice has recently been taken over by Dr. Saquib Aziz, who has kindly agreed to continue with this project.
On the day of the most recent visit this July, the children were accompanied by an interpreter who relayed any information required and anything the children wished to discuss, and reassured them as to what was going to take place in the waiting area and the surgery, and during the actual check-up and treatment.
We explained oral hygiene instruction and gave a goody bag to all the children, containing toothbrush, toothpaste and various gifts to enable them to continue looking after their teeth and gums on their return to Belarus and Ukraine.
This year has seen another benefit of these visits, as one of the original participants was so influenced by her experience that she decided to become a dentist and is at present in her second year at university.
She was sponsored to return to England for a short period of time and consequently spent a week on a placement at Bridgford Dental Practice, where she first had an insight into the dental working environment.
The children, interpreter and the organisers were very appreciative of the dental care we provided and supplied photographs of the children taken at the surgery. As you can see, they all seemed to enjoy their visit to Bridgford Dental Practice.