KZN’s queen of dental hygiene

2012-06-30 00:00

CHENÉ Mostert’s inquisitive mind has made her a big winner. The Ladysmith teenager recently won first prize from the American Dental Association Foundation for a project related to oral health.

The award was made at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Isef) in Pittsburgh. The news still hasn’t sunk in for the Ladysmith High matriculant.

“It feels unreal and I am overwhelmed by all the attention. I feel very proud and honoured to have won an award at such a prestigious event,” she said.

Mostert was chosen with eight other finalists. she developed a hand-cranked toothbrush steriliser. The unit rotates the bristles in hydrogen peroxide, which Mostert described as the safest sanitiser that leaves no bad taste.

She said she suspected toothbrushes would be dirty, but was shocked to count more than 100 types of bac­teria that can cause diseases in humans, growing on the bristles of an average toothbrush.

“I tested more than 100 used toothbrushes from all the provinces and from our neighbouring countries for the presence of pathogenic bacteria,” she said.

Finding no device to sterilise toothbrushes in South Africa, she set out to design her own device that would annihilate pathogens and keep toothbrushes decontaminated. It took her just over a year to complete.

“It was really hard work to get my project at an international standard and to comply with the rules and regulations of Intel Isef.

“My research highlighted a great need for a device to protect our toothbrushes and I wanted to increase public awareness of the dangers contaminated toothbrushes hold to our general health and wellbeing.”

The prize also won Mostert an invite to the U.S. in December from the American Dental Association. Funds are being raised for her trip.

“This invitation can open so many doors for me and can mean a lot for my future career plans.”

Mostert has taken part in the Eskom Expo since grade three. “My mind is constantly identifying problems and looking for solutions to make our world a better place.”

She wants to study medicine and become a paediatrician. “My passion lies with helping people and making a difference.”

• Siyathemba.Ben @media24.com

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