Thursday, November 02, 2006
Ode to Hygiene
I thought I'd post a couple of pics of me working . . . then you will have to believe that i'm working hard and not just playing hard =) I love being a dental hygienist. I love God and I think God has a funny sense of humor. Now that I look back, I realize why God had first brought me to Mission Viejo. It was at Dr. Caplanis' periodontal office that I was able to gain more experience with gum disease. I have learned so much from Dr. Caplanis and working for him has made me feel more confident about my hygiene skills. I'm not so scared to give gp injections or "go to town" on my patients. God really was preparing me for my work out here in the mission field.
Here is a picture of a "typical" case here on the island. Many of these patients haven't seen a dentist from one year to even thirty years! Some have never seen a dentist at all and they are adults. Most of Saipan consists of migrant workers that come from China, Korea, or Japan. Alot of these patients don't have insurance so seeing a dentist is a luxury for some. Most of my patients come in with stage three or four gum disease. Their mouths are filthy and rotten =( It really is a sad sight. Most patients need "deeper cleanings" called root planings.
The natives here chew something called Betel Nut. A “betel nut” refers to the nut of the areca palm, which gives a mild narcotic effect when chewed. The “betel” part actually refers to the leaf of the betel vine, which is used as a wrapper for the various ingredients of betel chewing. the betel nut is chewed as part of a package consisting of small pieces of the betel nut combined with some lime paste or powder (from limestone or coral) and some times tobacco, gambier or other spices, and these ingredients are packaged in the betel vine leaf. This whole package is referred to as the betel chew, quid or wad.The final ingredient is saliva, so the betel wad has to be chewed on in order to get the required effect. In the picture is a moderate case of Betal Nut Stain. You can't see it in the picture but the inside of the mouth is alot more stained than the front. If you can imagine the consistency of Betal Nut on teeth is similiar to tar. Sometimes when I am cleaning I will find twigs and part of the vine in my patients teeth. I usually can't finish a moderate or heavy case in one sitting so I have to reschedule for another appointment. One time I was calling my patient in from the lobby, he got up went out the front door and spit out the betel nut chew and then came in to meet me. It was gross =(
On a possitive note, what I love about hygiene is seeing immediate results of my work especially stain removal and supracalculus removal. It really is exciting for me to see stuff "fly" off. =)