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Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Get the latest updates from our programs in the field internationally and here in the United States.  

Dental Team in Alta Verapaz

by Katie Carroll | Jan 22, 2014
guatemala-dental-volunteering-team

In January MTI Guatemala and the Hughes Dental Team treated 156 individuals as well as reaching 247 community members with oral hygiene presentations in Campat and Chicujal.

Albina Toc (26) lives in Campat with her husband José Xol (30) and their three boys: Alvaro (8), Ervin (6), and Sergio (1). José works in local agriculture and to add to their income Albina embroiders fine details on huipiles, the traditional blouse worn by Maya women and girls in Guatemala.

Albina met the Hughes dental team when she brought her son Ervin to the Campat Community Center for a dental check-­‐up. Upon examination, all of Ervin’s baby teeth were rotting and he had severe tartar buildup. In addition to offering a cleaning, the team pulled two teeth in response to Ervin’s greatest areas of pain.

Noting that he was already getting his adult molars, dental hygienist student Shaireen Lata was especially concerned that both Ervin and his mother understood the importance of proper oral hygiene in order to safeguard his permanent teeth. The Mt. Shasta Community College student stepped aside from her work in the clinic to offer Albina specific information on status and care of Ervin’s teeth. Seeing that Albina also had her one­‐year old son Sergio with her and that he had six teeth already, Lata also explained the importance of oral hygiene care for babies even when they are exclusively breastfeeding.

Albina said she had not known the importance of caring for Sergio’s incoming baby teeth. “Now because I’ve received this advice I’m going to put it into practice,” she said. “With my other children I didn’t have the information and I didn’t do it, but with the last one I will.”

Albina and her children also attended an oral health presentation offered by the Hughes team in Campat. Using a combination of games and interactive activities, team members discussed proper brushing technique as well as what kinds of foods and sugars are most harmful to the teeth and difficult to remove while brushing. Children were given opportunity to practice what they learned on colorful stuffed animals before receiving their own toothbrush and participating in a two-­‐minute group tooth brushing session with team volunteers and MTI community health coordinators.

Over the course of the week the Hughes Team saw 156 patients in their clinic. In addition to fillings, restorative work, and cleanings they pulled a total of 274 teeth and their education component reached 247 community members. Outside of their work in San Jan Chamelco, team leader Kristi Hughes conducted a presentation with MTI Community Health Workers from Chicamán and Cobán discussing the importance of oral health and its role in MTI Guatemala’s four objectives.

 Story and photographs by Brittn Grey, Guatemala ETV

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