Rather than simply extracting decayed and infected teeth, our emphasis was on preventative measures, such as fluoride varnish and dental sealants; plus the restoration of hundreds of decayed teeth with composite and glass ionomer fillings. Of course, there was still a great need for the removal of non-restorable and infected teeth. Of the astonishing number of 650 total treatment procedures accomplished, only 28% of these were extractions. We saw a great number of our patients from last year; plus many, many more.
The dental team consisted of 5 dental students from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry: Regan Fredrick, Stacy Gould, Miranda Martin, Pete Harbert, and Cory Peterson. Cory's wife Lauren also accompanied us and provided invaluable support as well. As these student's instructor, I could not have been more proud or impressed with their level of professionalism, treatment care, or compassion. They were indeed a wonder to behold! In addition to these 5 dental students and myself, 3 Peruvian dentists helped provide treatment as well: Tula Oros, Vladimir Oblitas Cuba and Goyo Santos Carlos and, Yurico Vera Rodriguez a dental student from Cusco.
We were also blessed this year with several translators which greatly helped to expedite our efforts. They were arranged by our friend Leander Hollings (www.mysmallhelp.org) a Peruvian NGO. Chrissie, Matt, Lou and Holly from the UK, Teckla from the Netherlands, and Cam from Australia, plus Desana's own exceptional volunteers, Nelly and Nilo all provided invaluable translation and supportive services. I can't begin to thank them enough. Of course this mission would not take place without the help and inestimable support from my brother and his wife, George and Kathy Houk. The lives of so many vulnerable people of Peru have been greatly enhanced due to their benevolent philanthropy!
Next year's mission will once again take place in mid March. Anyone interested in volunteering or providing financial support, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Dr Michael Houk
View the photos from the 2011 Dental Mission.