Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Dr. Steed and staff participate in humanitarian dental mission to the Philippines

updated with more photos

Dr. Greg Steed and his staff from Ascent Dental in Pincher Creek, including Brenda Goasdoue, Susan Aker and Aline Wenisch, fulfilled a long held wish to provide dental services in the third world this past November 2015. They joined the Semiahmoo Dental Outreach team, organized by Dr. Ken Stones of Vancouver, in travelling to the remote small island of Siquijor in the southern Philippines. This is the sixth year this group has gone to this island. They are sponsored by the International College of Dentistry, and Rotary Clubs in Canada and the Philippines.  Dr. Steed is a member of both organizations.

There were five dentists and 17 other dental assistants, hygienists, and support staff. A clinic was set up in a school with all the equipment and supplies brought from Canada. The patients were primarily children from 7 to 13 years old from the school the clinic is in, and from surrounding schools that bus the children to the clinic while it is there. The children typically have ready access to high sugar drinks and candy, with a poor understanding on the part of both the children and their parents of the connection of all this sugar to tooth decay. The result is extensive decay on many teeth on each patient seen. The group was told that over 20 % of the students missed at least one day of school each month due to pain from teeth. The problems are so extensive that primary teeth (baby teeth) are rarely treated; reserving efforts to preserve the permanent teeth. Even with this emphasis, it was unfortunately very common to have to remove permanent teeth due to the advanced nature of decay. Many children had large areas of dental related oral infection. 

The group left Canada on November 19, and returned December 6, enabling them to have 10 days of the clinic in operation. During this time, approx. 650 restorations (fillings) were done, and just under 300 extractions. On top of this were the preventative efforts of dental hygiene instruction, fluoride, cleanings, and resin tooth sealants. Most of the children were seeing a dentist for the first time. The group learned an appreciation for their clinic environment in Pincher Creek with its equipment, supplies, and air conditioning. In Siquijor, there were just fold-up wooden dental chairs, only head mounted lights, and of course no air conditioning. The temperatures were fairly consistent every day; with highs of 30 to 33 degrees, but the weather report says that it felt like 40 to 42 degrees with the humidity. The Pincher Creek team found the children to be delightful. They study English in school, so there can be some communication, especially with the older children.

Brenda Goasdoue, Dr. Steed, Susan Aker, and Aline Wenisch in Siquijor
The people were grateful for the dental team’s efforts, and the group felt that they were able to make a significant difference for the children they treated. The sponsors just pay for dental equipment and supplies, so the Pincher Creek office paid their own way for travel, accommodation, and meals; but it was a very worthwhile investment in helping those who have, according to the World Health Organization, one of the highest cavity rates in the world. There are only about three dentists on this remote island of approx. 110,000 people; and most of the children’s families that were seen could not afford treatment anyways. Siquijor Island is a beautiful place with sandy beaches and warm water, but the Pincher Creek dental team returned with a greater appreciation for what we have here in Alberta.

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