As part of their studies many students are offered the chance to travel to different parts of the world to help other people. It’s part of the outreach programme offered by university dental colleges.
One area which is popular is Nepal. Last year one dental student worked with others setting up a clinic in a school. Kerry told reporters: “We set up our clinic in the local secondary school. We had a room for screening and a room to provide treatment.
“Our supervisor was always on hand to help with difficult extractions or advice about treatment, which was invaluable. For our group of 12 we all treated about 6 patients a day and screened many more.”
Another student, Richard added: “Often patients had been suffering with recurrent pain and inflammation for a number of years before we were finally able to remove the source of infection. Overall, our work was greatly appreciated with patients often walking for a number of hours to receive treatment.”
The Dental Outreach programme is organised by Work the World, which operates in a number of countries across Asia and Africa. It also operates in parts of South America. Faye Stickings, Work the World’s Managing Director said: “We have put an enormous amount of groundwork into 2012, working with our partners and the community to ensure sustainability.”
Often dental equipment including chairs and tools are taken over to places like Nepal simply because these countries either don’t have any facilities whatsoever or are short of suitable materials. The outreach programme last for two weeks. This year’s events start in June with others following on in July and August.
For the students however it gives them the chance to get to see oral health problems and diseases they would not ordinarily come across at home. “The wearing down of teeth is very common … mainly from their diet. They may have worn them down to the root and then they need to be extracted,” a Dundee University dental student said.