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Tuesday
Sep112012

« Inna Piskorska in Jamaica, Part Two »

“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively”  — Bob Marley

Ed. Note: UWSoD Student Inna Piskorska is following up her recent trip to Haiti with another humanitarian dental effort, this time to the island of Jamaica, the fifth-largest island country in the Caribbean. While there, the group of 24 volunteers are providing free dental care to the those in need. This is the second of two blog posts.
 
 
Our time in Jamaica has passed too fast, but what a great feeling of accomplishment, reward, and satisfaction this trip has brought. We helped people with their dental needs who would not have had a chance to be seen; we created smiles, we relieved pain, we made a difference for the people of the communities we worked in.

  Esthetics are important to Jamaicans, in part because tourism is such an important business on the island, and a healthy smile can be their ticket to economic security. Beautiful smiles - and having all of their anterior teeth — will often have an impact on where they can work, especially if they want to work in island tourism. Without a great smile, they’ll likely have to find work elsewhere.  While the majority of the procedures we performed were extractions, we also did anterior restorations and sealants, doing our part to help those with severe anterior decay get back into the lucrative tourism market. It would be great to discover the cause of the decay — is it too much sugar, a lack of fluoride, poor dental hygiene or a combination of some or all of those factors?
 
This  humanitarian trip to Jamaica was different from the one to Haiti — for one, it was easier to communicate with our patients because Jamaicans speak and understand english well, even though they have a distinct dialect. Along the way, we learned a few common local phrases and words that made communicating with our patients even easier: Wa a gwaan? (What’s going on?), jook (injection), cocaine-anesthetic (lidocaine), heavy (numb) and shaky (loose tooth). Even with regional language differences, we could have conversations with patients without an interpreter, and talk about things like soccer UFA finals, Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber. I would let kids listen to my ipod during my procedures to help them relax.
 
Because they spoke english, we were able to teach caries prevention to our patients —  providing them with information about oral hygiene and risk factors, in the hope that we could help to eliminate or decrease decay. Additionally, we provided sealants for kids, and sent all patients home with toothbrushes. Also, this year we collected more detailed records, in order to chart the long term success rates in communities. While in Jamaica, I was struck by the illiteracy rate among the population - many were unable to fill out the medical forms. It is really sad to see a 21 year boy in the chair who doesn’t know how to write or read, but education is expensive in Jamaica, and many cannot afford school. To that end, Great Shape, Inc. is not only involved in dental care for local population, but has created other projects to help children with education: The SuperKids Literacy Project and the iCare vision Project.

  I want to thank your our supervising dentists for their support and sharing their knowledge: Dr. Sherwin Shinn, Dr. Ron Guttu and  Dr. Jeffrey Dow. Thanks too, to our sponsors, who donated supplies and helped to make this trip happen: Patterson Dental Supply, Inc., Burkhart Dental Supply, Densply, Dr. Sakuma, Colgate, Hu-Friedy, Danville, and Garrison!
 
One Love, Inna

 

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