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The experience as a dental practitioner on the Washington Overseas Mission brigade poses many unique and wonderful opportunities. It is amazing to us how, upon removing  an extremely infected tooth that has been causing pain for many months, the patient rises from the chair and hugs us, or shake our hand, just for giving them a “pain free” extraction.  So many times any dental care they may receive does not include local anesthetic, nor is it performed by trained dentists.  So many of the areas we visit do not have access to a dentist and they present with multiple teeth requiring extraction.

Depending on our location and room available, we will set up our dental clinic outside under the canopy of trees or on the porch of a local school to take advantage of the sunlight while working. We try to bring along battery powered lights attached to our safety glasses due to the lack of proper lighting.  We do have portable dental chairs for our patients and are able to provide both operative and surgical extractions.  We mainly focus on anterior restorations and small posterior  restorations.  We do take X-rays on a limited basis with a portable Nomad as needed.  We have wonderful volunteers that clean our instruments and provide high level liquid disinfection.  We set up and break down our dental equipment and clinic most every day and trips are a total of 10 days, with 6 clinical days.  We try to work 3 days, take a day off and work another 3 days.  We welcome the day off, as you know, dental extractions and multiple restorations can be physically and mentally exhausting!

The expense of the trip, and the time out of the office is far out weighed by the friendships, smiles, “thank-you’s”, the amazing coffee, and the feeling of accomplishment of relieving pain and suffering. We used to joke that the way to get ready for your Honduran dental experience is to turn off your X-ray machine and do all your extractions without the benefit of an X-Ray:). Seriously, it will be the experience of a lifetime and you will have many experiences, stories and accomplishments to share with your teams at home, in addition of the pride of knowing you have made a profound difference in the lives of the poorest of the poor in Honduras.

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