Students impact oral health in Honduras

Students impact oral health in Honduras

Dental students care for the residents of Honduras

by Allison Gooch, ULSD student Class of 2016

During spring break of 2015, students and faculty had the opportunity to participate in a unique service-learning trip to Langue, Honduras. The group consisted of 16 ULSD D.M.D. and dental hygiene students, along with ULSD faculty and other practicing dentists. The group partnered with Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA) and Global Health Outreach (GHO), and was met by 23 other specialists from other universities and practices around the United States, including medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other volunteers.

Like other medical/dental opportunities of this nature, the aim of the trip was to provide medical and dental treatment for individuals unable to receive routine care. The group had the privilege of working with local physicians and dentists to treat illnesses in all age groups. All procedures took place in a local elementary school where members of the medical and dental teams were able to socially interact with local families and school-aged children, in addition to meeting physical needs.

Unlike other teams whose dental procedures may be limited to cleanings, relatively simple restorative procedures, or extractions, this group had the unique opportunity to replace missing teeth in the form of esthetic dentures or “flippers.” This form of treatment was made possible by ULSD faculty and other dentists who came equipped with materials required for impressions, models, and denture tray fabrication and tooth set-up. Contrary to routine service trips, where patients who undergo an extraction may be obligated to take advantage of other resources for tooth replacement, many of the patients treated by this dental team were able to immediately receive dentures following extractions.

One particular case involved performing “comprehensive” care for a young girl who required extractions of the upper central teeth and restoration of the adjacent ones due to decay. With a collaborative (and enthusiastic) effort, the dental students were able to successfully provide her with an esthetic denture in addition to restoring the adjacent teeth. The result was a complete, fully restored dentition – and a very grateful individual. Treatment outcomes like this made the trip a very rewarding experience for all members of the dental and medical teams. Having students and professionals with a heart for service opportunities like these, ULSD will continue its efforts in providing dental care to people across the globe.