Our hygienist Peggy recently returned from a service trip to the Marshall Islands, where she volunteered in a clinic to help clean and restore teeth. She had so many wonderful stories and pictures, so we thought we would share Peggy’s description of her trip!
“I arrived at the hospital in Majuro, Marshall Islands with a large suitcase full of fluoride varnish, hand instruments, polishing paste, hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss. I waited outside the dental clinic inside the hospital until Lu Lu arrived and let me in. I soon met the dental staff, and they gave me a room to work in. Word spread quickly that there was a dental hygienist on the island, and patients began arriving over the next two weeks, including hospital staff and their families. Some patients even made the trip from surrounding islands just to have their teeth cleaned.
Many islanders have severe periodontal disease, some in pain with periodontal abscesses and many missing multiple teeth already. A very popular pastime on the islands is chewing the betel nut and tobacco, which causes a large part of the decay. Another culprit is not having a dental hygienist on the island! The dentists and dental therapists perform a great deal of extractions, which leaves little time for preventative treatment. I left each patient with one last caution: “No more betel nut!” It soon became known that I could remove the heavy brown stain caused by the betel nut habit, allowing me the opportunity to help relieve discomfort, improve appearances, and give plenty of education!
The kids seem to have a popular snack habit too: dry ramen noodles with Kool-Aid sprinkled on top. We applied fluoride varnish, and pleaded with the kids to discontinue this destructive habit. I left a much-needed supply of fresh fluoride varnish, and the dental staff promised to apply it on the 2nd graders teeth when school resumes.”
Peggy’s experiences highlight the importance of preventative dental care, including routine teeth cleanings and education. We’re grateful for Peggy’s commitment to volunteer work and service, and we’re happy to have such a great hygienist working here at Quail Ridge Dental!