Sometimes it’s important to shake things up a bit and do something that takes you out of your comfort zone.
I was feeling a little uninspired last year until I caught up with a friend of mine, Pat Popat, who is a dental therapist. He travels to Uganda annually, taking much needed dental aid to areas with little or no access to dental care. He talked to me about his upcoming trip and inspired me to get involved.
So, in February this year I took my skills and 46 kilos worth of dental supplies to rural Uganda and found it a rewarding and unforgettable experience.
The dental missions are run by Dentaid, a charity that works to improve oral health around the world. It sends volunteer dental professionals and reconditioned dental equipment and supplies to support the work of dentists in poor and remote communities.
Treating and educating
We worked wherever we could – orphanages, schools, churches, classrooms – and people would come from far and wide to see us. The need was great in the rural areas we travelled to, which don’t have a local dentist and therefore rely on clinics and pop-ups like ours. We triaged the patients first and prioritised those in pain and in need of fast treatment. We would then help them with oral hygiene, with a mixture of treatment and education. Our aim was to treat between 100 and 150 people a day.
We often worked with Ugandan dentists who would come and spend a day with us. It was a good opportunity to pass on our knowledge and expertise in order to help improve their practice, as some of their knowledge and methods are less advanced. Dental education on the latest clinical evidence to prevent such practices is a vital part of Dentaid’s work.