While Mercy Ships is known for its hospital and surgical procedures, another program we facilitate is our off-ship dental clinic.
Screenings are conducted twice a week where people can line up and those who need it most are selected for dental procedures. Dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants travel to and from the ship five days a week treating as many as 80 patients a day educating them on dental hygiene practices as well as providing cleanings and treating infections and decay.
Additionally, we send our hygienists to local schools to teach children preventative dental care and provide them with toothbrushes and toothpaste so they can start healthy hygiene habits at a young age.
Ronaldo came to the dental clinic concerned about the unsightly decay between his two front teeth. At 17 he was worried about extraction but he no longer felt pain from the cavities.
Like some patients, he had no idea that this small point of decay made his health a ticking time-bomb due to an unseen infection that was spreading.
A Mercy Ships dentist discovered this problem and with both antibiotics and a root canal, his tooth was saved from extraction and the infection- which could have led to far worse problems- was treated as well.
Dental Prison Outreach
Each year our Dental Team goes on the road for a few days…
They pack up their chairs, tables, and sterilized instruments, loading it all onto a couple ship vehicles to set up shop at a local prison providing dental care to inmates.
In Madagascar this “shop” consisted of the prison’s chapel which was carefully and efficiently transformed into a dental treatment room where our dedicated dental staff of 23 volunteers and local day crew set to work. It is indeed a labor of love and one that has a powerful impact on both the volunteers and the inmates.
As our Lead Dentist, Saulo Gamarra Gonzales attests, “The work was emotionally and physically intense because of the great need they (the prisoners) have in the midst of misery.”
The team served for 3 days and provided dental care to 286 patients during their visit, providing much needed relief from the pain of tooth decay.