There were few tears shed, but all for a good cause as Wells of Hope partnered with Kindness in Action dental team for their annual dental mission in two villages close to Camp Esperanza in Jalapa.
Each year a team of Dentists, Hygeinists and support staff volunteer a week of their time to come to Guatemala and provide dental care. This year the team consisted of 16 men and women, eigh of them dentists including 2 paediatric dentists. During the four days of clinics the team triaged 380 patients (90% were children) and performed the following treatments: 860 tooth extractions, 220 restorations, 169 hygiene treatments and 31 stainless steel crowns.
Kids Waving Alberta Flags shared with them by Dental Mission Team Members
As each child came to the clinic, held at the local primary schools, they would first be reviewed by a Dentist and an initial assessment would be made. They would then be sent for either a cleaning, filling, extraction, or for some lucky ones, all three! Hygienists prepared make-shift tables to treat children on, and dentists worked with some equipment provided by Wells of Hope, and tools which they brought along themselves. It was a somewhat painful experience for some of the children, most of whom had never had their teeth cleaned or checked by a Dentist. Can you remember the first time you had a filling and your mouth was frozen? A disorienting feeling to say the least! That being said, most took it all in stride, with parents sharing a little more gratitude than their kids, who were at least cheered up by the gift of a toy after the visit was completed.
All the instruments and tools were thoroughly sterilized using the same stringent standards of any Canadian dental office. That being said, it was a different experience for many of the team members to be doing their work in such a different environment than they are used to. Children were given toothbrushes and toothpaste and encouraged to use them on a daily basis, something that doesn’t always happen in the villages of Jalapa.
If you are interested in taking part in a dental mission you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.