Although people in the Western world are accustomed to receiving dental care as part of ordinary life, individuals living in poorer nations are often unable to afford the care they need. MB2 Dental Solutions organized a program in 2017 where qualified dentists were brought together for a mission trip to Jamaica. During the trip, Jamaicans of all ages who came from disadvantaged backgrounds were given free dental care. MB2 Dental also initiated educational programs to teach children about the importance of caring for their teeth and the best care practices to utilize. The trip was a success, and MB2 Dental’s team returned to the U.S. knowing that they had made a significant difference.
Problems with Dental Care in Jamaica
People who live comfortable lives in Western nations often struggle to comprehend the dynamics of the challenges that individuals in impoverished nations face every day. Due to widespread poverty, doctors often choose to leave the countryside in favor of urban areas where patients can afford to pay more for their services. Impoverished Jamaicans, therefore, often have to travel more than 50 miles to receive dental care. Since roads tend to be in poor condition and public transportation is expensive, traveling to the city to visit a dentist is unaffordable for many people. Additionally, there is no social safety net in Jamaica, so patients who go through hard times cannot receive care. Lack of dental care is, therefore, a serious problem for many Jamaicans.
MB2 Dental’s Mission to Help
MB2 Dental decided that the prevalence of poverty in Jamaica made it the ideal location to provide free dental care on a charitable basis. Although some dentists might prefer to help struggling patients in their own community, MB2 Dental recognized that most of these patients can qualify for some form of government assistance. In Jamaica, however, millions of people have to get by without dental coverage and with little hope of ever receiving some form of assistance. MB2 Dental, therefore, decided that a mission trip to Jamaica would make the greatest possible difference for people in need.
16 Dentists Working Together
One of the challenges associated with working in an impoverished country is the potential dangers that providing care can present for both doctors and patients. Doctors who visit remote areas of impoverished nations on their own face the dangers of being robbed or kidnapped. Even if a doctor’s safety can be assured, widespread poverty means that more patients would be lining up for care than a single care provider could possibly treat alone. Furthermore, past experiences with unethical scammers and unqualified doctors often cause patients to stay in their homes when an individual doctor comes into a village to provide care. MB2 Dental, therefore, put together a team of 16 dentists and an oral surgeon. By visiting each village as a team, MB2 Dental was able to ensure the safety of its team members while demonstrating a serious care effort to wary residents.
Over 400 Patients Treated
Despite the limited amount of time that the MB2 Dental team had available to help local residents in Jamaica, over 400 patients were given free treatments. A significant portion of the patients had almost never received dental care in their lives, so extensive treatments were necessary in many instances. Patients often had dozens of cavities, and many patients struggled with serious medical conditions, such as periodontal disease or tooth erosion. Tooth extractions were also provided for patients who were in pain or who had rotting teeth. With the help of the oral surgeon and his assistants, some patients were even given operations at no charge. MB2 Dental was, therefore, able to provide thorough care while helping a significant number of patients.
In addition to the challenge of providing extensive care for a high volume of patients, the MB2 Dental team also had to work in a makeshift environment. Since remote villages in Jamaica do not have dental offices that can be rented, care had to be provided in local homes, churches, and commercial buildings. In many villages, local residents volunteered to bring wooden tables, plastic chairs and other items that were needed to construct a care center. Despite the lack of high-quality durable medical equipment used in Western nations, the MB2 Dental team was still able to provide care that met or exceeded medical standards. Setting up treatment centers also helped to attract the attention of local residents, so a large crowd of prospective patients often crowded around the makeshift care centers by the time the dentists were ready to get started.
Education for Children
The MB2 Dental team recognized that attempting to treat everyone in a village or town would be unviable due to widespread poverty. Therefore, in addition to providing ordinary dental care, the volunteers visited Falmouth All Age School and Montego Infant School to provide education for young children. Seminars were provided in coordination with school administrators to encourage children to practice good dental hygiene and recognize the importance of oral health. MB2 Dental focused on teaching children about how to care for their baby teeth and the importance of preserving their permanent teeth. Unfortunately, Jamaican schools offer students little information about dental care, so MB2 Dental’s informational seminars made a significant difference for children who were served and their families.
A Significant Impact
The overall impact of MB2 Dental’s trip to Jamaica was significant due to the extreme level of need many patients faced and the hard work that each dentist contributed. Some of the patients were in serious need of dental care, and the care they received will help to make their future lives easier and more comfortable. The educational efforts were especially effective since their benefits will compound in the years ahead as the children teach their friends and families about how to care for their teeth. The patients who received care showed the MB2 Dental team exceptional gratitude throughout the trip. Consequently, members of the MB2 Dental team left Jamaica feeling as though they had made a serious impact on the lives of hundreds of people.