We didn't have to talk about money or what their insurance co-payment was. We were just there to get people out of pain and discomfort. We came together as a team and shared the same heart as Jesus: to serve others.
I feel like this is what I came here to do. To be able to provide dental treatment to those who really need it.
Ever heard of someone who lived with a toothache for more than a year? On Sunday we saw plenty of patients who put up with pain for over a year due to financial restraints or lack of insurance to visit their dentist. We saw 66 patients and did over 80 dental procedures. Dr. Crystal Edmister and Dr. Ken Pierson extracted over forty teeth as well as other dental procedures like fillings. The other registered dental hygienist, Lori and I did a bunch of gross debridements on patients who hadn't seen the dentist in over 10 years. We provided over $10,000 worth of dental procedures. I think it was a success. Here's an article about our event in the Saipan Tribune news.
But still the sad fact is 40 percent of the population in the U.S. is not getting the dental care they need. I read the Surgeon General's Report 2000, Oral Health In America, and it called untreated poor health the "silent x-factor promoting the onset of life-threatening diseases which are responsible for the deaths of millions of Americans each year." Its a serious matter and unfortunately it doesn't get as much attention as it should.
Access to dental care is limited. I've seen it on my dental mission trips not only in Saipan but in other countries like the Philippines and Mexico.
Its hard because coming out of dental hygiene school you want to go out and make a difference. Now that I am out here I am realizing how great the epidemic is and how short handed we are. So, I guess I can only do what I can . . . save one mouth at a time.
Photo Credit: the Pierson's and Kuya Ernie