DENTAL HUMANITARIAN SERVICE IN CHINA!
–By Karl Koerner
In September 2015, members of the Ensign Academy of Dentistry (formerly the Academy of LDS Dentists) and others from around the U.S. conducted two dental humanitarian projects in China. They went to Suqian (where they have previously been 5 times) and Guilin (where they have previously been 4 times). Leaders of the trips: Suqian: Dr. Karl Koerner, Dr. Scott Stucki, Dr. Yin Hsu, and Dr. Adam Hodges. Guilin: Dr. Bruce Bosler. Our model is to use six operatories (at no charge) in an existing dental facility with local dentists assisting us. One operatory in each place is for dental hygiene. We usually take 6-8 dentists and 2 hygienists to each place plus other support personnel.
Treatment performed consists of restorative dentistry, simple endodontics, oral surgery, and oral hygiene. Each day, besides clinical treatment and chairside teaching, we conduct lectures to teach and share dental knowledge among all dental professionals.
Patients are predominantly needy children who are orphans or from schools for the handicapped. We also will see the elderly from nearby institutions and indigents from the local area. On adults we conduct blood pressure and blood sugar testing and find many individuals outside the normal range. We also do random screenings in town squares and will usually be interviewed by local news media (television, newspaper). We treat about 20 persons per half-day. Waiting patients (mostly children) are entertained and kept busy by some of our staff.
We visit local schools (K-12 and university) to teach English and oral hygiene. We take donated dental supplies and equipment, about 600 oral hygiene kits/place (often contributed through Eagle Scout Projects), and hundreds of toys for distribution. Work time is 5 days – after which we will sight-see in a part of China for 2 days. Places seen are Xian (Terracotta Warriors), Beijing (Great Wall and Forbidden City), and Guilin (Li River, Yang Shuo, and mountain-top rice patties).
Participants must be physically healthy and strong because it is vigorous and demanding and the traveling leaves you sleep deprived, yet it is very satisfying and participants bond with patients and local health providers for lifetime friendships. We often bring one or more Chinese doctors to the U.S. after a trip for them to continue advancing their dental knowledge.
Our organization, Help the Children, Inc. is 501(c)3 certified by the IRS. If you have interest in serving with us on an upcoming expedition in 2016, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.