Three dentists and two hygienists from Aspen Dental offices volunteered their time and talents in Haiti earlier this month (Nov. 4-9), providing free dental care in a country where there is just a single dentist for every 100,000 people.
The team – – based in the town of Jacmel, three hours from Haiti’s capital of Port au Prince – – provided vital oral care in a neighborhood clinic in conjunction with Restore Haiti.
Operating daily in a cinder block structure amidst a shortage of water and unstable power supply, the volunteers provided nearly 500 Haitians with free care and oral care education.
Leading the team of clinicians was Dr. Chedly Schatzie Vincent, owner of the Aspen Dental practices in Fairfield and Norwalk, CT.
“The island is vibrant and beautiful, but Haitians do not have access to the same resources that people may have in other developing countries,” Dr. Vincent said in her blog post. “In fact, 80% of Haiti is considered poor, with a majority of the population living below the poverty line. It is very difficult for Haitians to have access to the proper health care.”
Dr. Vincent traveled with four colleagues from several Aspen Dental practices: Dr. Jennifer Check of Monroeville, PA; Dr. Ekta Sagar of Hanover, PA; and hygienists Marissa Leach, RDH of Manchester, NH and Marilyn Bartley, RDH, of Norwalk, CT.
Making Do With Limited Resources
With more than a dozen boxes of supplies, the team had everything it needed for general hygiene care and preventative dentistry, including kits for tooth extractions and fillings, portable X-Ray machines, gauze, needles, sutures, and antibiotics.
But working conditions made practicing dentistry a challenge.
“Purified water from five–gallon jugs was set up for procedures and to help sterilize instruments,rdeg; Dr. Check noted in her most recent blog update. “Patient after patient, we began seeing a trend in multiple teeth and gum infections – the majority of which were cases of extreme decay and abscess. In the most extreme cases, when a patient’s teeth were examined we would notice such extreme decay that the tooth had already begun falling apart in their mouth.”
The team received support from Henry Schein, the world’s largest provider of health care products and services to office-based dental, medical and animal health practitioners.
Photos, videos and daily accounts of the team’s experiences may be found on the Aspen Dental blog, YouTube channel and Facebook page