Toothbrushes, fluoride, sealants. The basics in a hygienist’s tool belt for preventing dental disease. While our group was at the Hopital Bienfaisance Dental Clinic, hygienist Brenda Mehr worked with the dental assistant, Johnson, to complete the students’ dental screenings. The amount of periodontal disease caused by calculus/tarter build up and decay was extreme. Brenda recalls doing the screenings where most of the students were treatment planned to return for extractions due to extensive decay or fillings to restore large cavities. Of her time in the clinic, she remembers only 2 children who did not have to return for anything other than just a routine cleaning - hundreds of children were diagnosed with dental disease and rescheduled 5 months later to receive their treatment due to the overwhelming amount of patients to be seen in the only 2 operating chairs that were functional.
One goal of Project Haiti Dental is to provide more preventative services to decrease the amount of extractions and restorations needed for students. By fundraising to get two portable dental units to increase the working chairs from 2 to 4, the clinic could double the amount of patients treated per day. Training the assistants to perform prophylactic cleanings, provide fluoride varnish treatment, and sealants would establish a preventative dental program that could treat the students without burdening the dentists’ schedules by doing the cleanings out of their operatories.
Project Haiti Dental also wants to provide education and resources to the area schools to establish a curriculum on oral health that students can learn about in school. We are also raising money to partner with a local Haitian artist to paint one wall of the exterior of the dental clinic (also the waiting room) with a mural on brushing and flossing instructions for patients to see while they are waiting.