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As part of her dental
hygiene work in Andover
and Lawrence, Forero uses a
variety of teaching tools for
all ages and especially
enjoys working with the
Latino community.
"I'm not just a hygienist doing just a cleaning," she said. "I'm
a dental educator and advocate of oral health, providing a very
important medical treatment," she said.
Recently, Forero was asked to speak at the annual meeting of the
Hispanic Dental Association in Boston. She spoke about effective
Latino-oriented practices. Working with the Latino population is
something Forero really enjoys.
"The approach to dentistry in a Latino community is very
different from working in other communities," she said. "It's
cultural. Many Latinos bring entire families child, mother,
grandmother to appointments. I get to touch so many lives
in just one visit."
In her role as an oral-health educator, Forero travels throughout
the state giving educational presentations about oral health to
a wide variety of audiences. She visits public schools to educate
children about best dental practices, and advocates for the use of
mouth guards in every youth sport to coaches and parents. She
teaches teen moms how to provide proper oral health care for
their children, visits a variety of community and senior centers
to discuss healthy diets and oral health, and helps organize a
number of community health fairs.
Forero recently developed and presented a program about
dental trauma to the Massachusetts School Nurse Organization.
"The school nurse is often the first person to handle a traumatic
dental situation," she said. "If they are educated about how to
properly treat oral injuries, there is a better chance of preventing
more serious dental procedures for the patient in the future."
In addition to her current work, Forero takes time to remain
in contact with the dental and medical practices she worked
for in both Colombia and Turkey. She frequently gathers
donated oral-health care supplies and sends them overseas
for distribution.
For now, Forero is happy educating local communities about the
importance of good oral health. As for the future, she
plans to keep her options open to work with international
public health and dental organizations. Teaching is also on
her bucket list. "Maybe MCC is in my future again," she said.
People often ask Forero why she hasn't pursued a license
to practice dentistry in the U.S., and she always responds,
smiling, "I love what I do. As a hygienist, I can focus on a
very important part of the oral system that maintains the
base of a beautiful smile and a healthy body. I never stop teaching
and helping people."
Tura Linderholm