Dr Joyce Gitangu, 39


Dental Smiles for Kids

Joyce had been working in the US for six years, but when she saw the need to return to Kenya and offer dental services to children, she did not hesitate.
A graduate in medicine from Harvard and Tufts Universities in the US, Joyce has opened Dental Smiles for Kids, a one of a kind clinic in Nairobi that treats children and trains them in oral hygiene.
“We ensure children are taught oral health in a fun environment, making it easier for them to remember. When children see other children having a positive dental experience they have a positive model to follow,” says Joyce.
Dental Smiles caters for all the dentistry needs of children; from treating tooth decay, fluorosis (both of which are the most common conditions in the children that she sees), misalignment, cracked teeth and braces.
Having worked in a paediatric dental clinic in the US, she seeks to give Kenyan children a different feel at the hospital which offers a reassuring atmosphere. Her clinic has an environment that is friendly to children with colourful decor, a playroom and SpongeBob cartoon-themed chairs.
She sees about 10 children on average in a day during low seasons and about 20 during high seasons.
Established in 2014, the clinic has registered tremendous success that it has had to move from its first location in search of a bigger space to accommodate the growing number of patients.
Initially, Dental Smiles only used to provide dental procedures to children.
“Parents begged to be seen at the clinic so I brought in a dentist for adults,” Joyce says.
Her clinic focuses on preventive care for children by keeping the mouth healthy, but she says most parents will not take their children to the dentist unless they have a shaky or decayed tooth.
To give back to the society, Joyce does community outreach in schools and other community events where they teach children on dental hygiene.
Joyce, who is married with two children, won the Fellowship for International College of Dentistry last year, an award that recognises outstanding dentists worldwide.
–Gerald Andae