Tuesday, May 13, 2014

We Need Your Dentist

Last year with the help of ORPHANetwork (ON) we made great strides in addressing the dental needs of children especially. 
Winthrop students dental hygiene talk w/ Nueva Vida kids
Our hygienist went to the feeding centers supported by ON and taught kids about the importance of good oral hygiene…hundreds of kids.  She did such a good job that when a class from Winthrop University (Rock Hill, SC) last March did classes on good oral hygiene, the kids already knew most of the answers!

With ON’s help we also expanded the hours of our dental care by hiring our dentist full-time and hiring a full-time assistant.   42% of the care we gave last year was preventive…cleanings and sealants.  Only 11% were extractions!  The rest was restoring teeth…fillings, rebuilding teeth, and temporary crowns.  This is amazing in Nicaragua where in a country of poor people, most people wait until they have a tooth so rotten it has to come out…including children.

Dr. Dirk working with dental assistant Fabiola
Studies have proven that if the body is not fighting inflammation in the gums and bacteria in the mouth, then the body heals faster and the heart stays healthier.  Foods that are harmful to teeth are also harmful to the body as a whole.  Sugar is cheap here. Sodas are cheaper than bottled water.  Refrescos (local fruit drink made with lots of sugar), candy, sticky sugary gum, etc….all of these are perfect building blocks for diabetes later in life and poorer health now.

At El Porvenir, the organic coffee cooperative, the children come to see the volunteer doctors we brought up the mountain to their isolated community.  In March, the pediatrician noticed the children’s teeth were rotting.  Why?  In this remote area they had gotten a little store that stocks its shelves with candy and sodas.

Dr. Heather
We are continuing to work with ON to get the children in their feeding centers seen by our hygienist and dentist consistently in order to save teeth and improve health…but it is hard for parents to internalize that their children’s teeth are in fact a foundation of either good or poor health.  In a society of poverty, people operate from crisis to crisis as a means of survival…teeth are not a top priority until they abscess. 

In those times, however, when the children do come to the dental clinic, sometimes they come in droves and we cannot see them all, which frustrates everyone.  There are about 1,200 children in these feeding centers…and we have just one dentist, one assistant and one hygienist.

We are searching for dentists, assistants, and hygienists to come volunteer…we would love to have a dental professional volunteering one week out of each month except December (a month with lots of festivities and busyness, so few patients come in). 

Dr. Becca consulting with Dr. Inya
This year we Dr. Becca Orsini from ON who will come twice and bring an assistant and a hygienist; Dr. Dirk who started our dental clinic will come twice, Dr. Heather with Dirk, and a Rotarian Dr. Art who came the last of April and the start of May. This covers 5 months with additional help, but we have 6 more months to cover.  So spread the word to your dentists and maybe we can make this happen. -Kathleen