Wednesday, July 24

Brush Your Teeth

When I wake up in the morning and the sun is startin' show

I brush my teeth chhh chhhh chhhhhhh chhh chhh chh

I brush my teeth chhh chhhh chhhhhhh chhh chhh chh

I recall shaking my booty singing this song over and over again as wee little Whitney with my mom, brother and sister. Growing up in the United States, children cannot avoid talking about, learning about, reading about, nor singing about dental health. A large majority of US citizens can afford and have access to toothbrushes, toothpaste and still a huge percentage of people can and do visit a dentist.

According to Nicaraguan statistics from 2012 (statistics about Nicaragua?), only 0.1 dental consults are provided per resident per year and 2.2 general medical consultations. However, these statistics do not explain that out of the 6 million inhabitants, many people cannot access nor let alone afford basic dental care. Also, the available water supplies often lack an appropriate amount of fluoride to aide..(something).

On July 5-13, 2013 I assisted AMC in hosting a large dental team consisting of 17 team members; 7 dentists, 2 camera crew men, the president of the company, a international consultant, a life/team coach, and 5 other volunteers. It was huge! This team came from the Smiles for Everyone Foundation which is a foundation started through the Smiles Brand company. 

Throughout the week, the SEAL Team along with the help of local dentist Dra. Alicia Reyes (Dr. Francisco's wife & a mother figure to me), 4 translators and AMC, 621 dental consults were given and 2,026 dental procedures were performed. Everyone worked hard to clean, fill, and extract teeth.

 For many Nicaraguans, visiting the dentist simply means getting teeth extracted or a crown put on a tooth. Therefore, some people go with the expectation and hope that their teeth will be pulled or they can gain the shiny-look to their smile. Many dental teams who visit only have time and supplies to pull and clean teeth. This team tried to save as many teeth as possible by putting in fillings.

As much work as was accomplished the greatest effects will come with our long-term dental project. This team is going to provide funds for us to continue follow up with not only consults but also dental awareness and prevention programs. AMC already had a few educational programs (I helped sing a dental song with two of AMC's health promoters/volunteers in a local school) but this will only help improve dental health within AMC's projects. 

During the week, I couldn't help realize how much of a privilege it is for me to have all of my teeth  and for them to be nice and white. However; when I thought about it more- dental health should NOT be a luxury or a privilege. It is a human right and a health issue that can be prevented. As AMC's dental program grows, I have hope that many of the kids I encountered will also have a brushing your teeth song stuck in their heads one day as they actually keep their teeth clean.

I loved being able to work with Dr. Francisco, my supervisor, outside of the office. Dr. F. went over and beyond his responsibilities to make the team's trip possible and successful.
Waiting hours for to receive treatment.

One of the coolest stories from the trip is about Ivania Navas. Ivania left for the states during the war and has lived there ever since. She recently won one of Smile Brands' most prestigious company awards and worked as Dr. Alicia's dental assistant the entire week. How tuani!

Dr. Horner and Marcos (the translator) We all tell Marcos he should just apply for his a certification to become a doctor due to his extensive experience translating for all different kinds of doctors.
Milton and Eliezer volunteering their time for AMC.

We did have one accident during the week. I told Mac it was perfectly fine to run the morning we were in Matagalpa....He went running...and got bit by a dog. Luckily, we had Dr. F. with us who has the big connections at the hospital (his brother is the director) where Mac got his first round of tetanus and rabbis vaccines. Later, we gave Mac these stickers.
In San Benito, all of our electricity ran through generators. Harry was our awesome tech guy.

"Sometimes,’ said Pooh, ‘the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."
A. A. Milne, Winne the Pooh