This past March my team and I visited Guyana on an expedition that would provide free oral health care to local citizens in need. Guyana is located on the northern most part of South America. On March 2nd, we arrived in Georgetown, which is the capital of Guyana. From Georgetown, our group took Cessna airplanes two small villages, Baramita and Kariako.
Once in Baramita, we began our work. Our team consisted of me, Dr. Mark Just DDS, Dr. Todd Mattheson DDS, Brynn Moe RDH, Tiffany Mamae Dental Assistant, Elizabeth Daldrup, Dr Bill Heagy DDS/ Oral Surgeon, and Anneke Richardson Dental Assistant. We spent three days in Baramita cleaning, filling, and extracting teeth. A number of individuals needed serious work to prevent their given oral conditions from getting any worse.
After those few busy, yet very accomplished days in Baramita, our group went to Kariako. We got to the small village on river boats, which was the only way of getting to the destination. Just like in Baramita, we spent our days cleaning, filling, and extracting. However, we only got to spend two days here given the time restrictions for this mission trip.
It was an incredible experience and we managed to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time. After just five days, 196 patients were individually screened and treated. Of the various services, exactly 23 cleanings, 42 fillings, and 249 extractions were completed.
Many individuals had severely decaying teeth that could not be restored. Fortunately, we had the necessary equipment to perform the proper types of intervention.
One of the greatest opportunities during this mission trip was the ability to educate the many citizens we met about proper oral health care. Not only did we demonstrate proper ways to brush and floss, but we used the items donated by the Henry Schein Cares Foundation to teach individuals how to apply these skills. We even had enough dental supplies to give to our patients to take home – with the hope that they take care of their teeth and gums everyday!
Jud and Karen Wickwire were the local missionaries that helped us throughout the whole trip. Jud did an endless amount of work helping to coordinate the trips and fly us to our destinations. Karen, a local hygienist, also had a huge role in helping us to find places to provide dental care, etc.
We gave all excess supplies, such as the 2×2 gauze and packs of floss, to Wings for Humanity, which is medical as well as gospel ministry that serves a vast part of Guyana. It is a great organization we know would be able to put these supplies to very good use.