The first dental care done by FoH was around 2007, when Dr. Tom Ritter from Maryland accompanied the medical group and extracted teeth the entire time. As shown in the picture to the right of a roofless floorless corner of a building in a rickety chair.
Dr. Dave Thompson of Green Bay/DePere became involved and consults w/Dr. Tom about supplies, the Port au Prince dental school and general support. Slowly he has wrought tremendous changes and expansion. In 2013 a portable dental unit was donated and enables Dr. Dave to do restorations. He has also acquired portable dental chairs and sterilizing machines. He has been able to enlist Haitian dentists and students. Below is a picture of Dr. Dave with team and equipment. What a long way we have come from the days of Dr. Tom Ritter!
The portable dental unit performed very well and will provide our dental team with a unit that willexpand our clinical services for many years and with a very dramatic upgrade in our capabilities.
The people in Thomazeau and Denigon were very excited to have their teeth restored. This was transforming in terms of our clinical operation. We weren't particularly efficient with our initial venture into the realm of restorative dentistry but I am confident that we will perform quite a few more restorations in our future missions. It is difficult to anticipate just how significant the transformation will be, but it is quite possible that March 2014 mission could involve a majority of the patients in Thomazeau and Denigon having restorations rather than extractions, purely speculation.
While the dental group is willing to remove as many teeth as patient conditions dictate, we were all energized by the restorative option. There is a distinct shift in patient expectations, restorations and cleanings desired as opposed to extractions. Montalais patient expectations are very similar to those we experienced in all the other sights in the previous missions. My belief is that the our presence on a consistent basis has eased the demand to some degree for emergency/urgent care.
Dr. Dave and the Haitian dentists visited 5 clinics in the two week period. Of the patients seen 352 had extractions, 27 had restorations and 74 had cleaning. 1200 children in schools and orphanages had fluoride applications. they are also instructed in how to use their new toothbrushes and toothpaste.