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"This trip will hold a special place in my heart as one of those chance-of-a-lifetime experiences," says Liz Lake,...See more CDT, a staff member at Midwestern University (MWU) College of Dental Medicine, Glendale, AZ, who recently returned from a dental mission on the South Pacific island of Tonga. The Kingdom of Tonga is made up of more than 100 islands, many without electricity or running water, and a large portion of the population is farmers who don't have the money for regular dental care. "The need is great, and I would estimate that 80% of the people I saw on the island are missing at least one anterior tooth," says Lake, noting that one of the island's biggest exports—sugarcane—is often given to children as a treat. "Many of the patients were youngsters with teeth that are almost completely broken down with decay, which is likely the direct result of sucking on sugarcane. Generally, the only treatment is to extract the teeth." In addition to Lake, four dentists and 14 third-year dental students from MWU participated in the mission which was sponsored by the campus chapter of the Latter-Day Saints (LDS) Student Dental Association. They teamed with an LDS Association dentist, who is serving a year-long mission on the island, to set up a clinic in the health center of a local high school. It consisted of seven dental chairs, a small waiting room and a small exam room converted to a removable lab equipped with a dental lathe, vibrator, Hanau torch and a rice-cooker that served as a pressure pot/curing unit. Lake brought her own supplies, including wax, acrylic, articulators, denture teeth and instruments. People from all over Tonga were lined up at the door each morning as the volunteers arrived. The team worked at a fast pace and in five days treated 194 patients, including extractions, fillings, cleanings, root canals and removable prostheses. Lake fabricated over 30 flippers, partials and complete dentures, as well as relines and repairs. The group also brought 10 full denture cases back with them for fabrication, then shipped them back to the dentist on the island. "I've had my share of busy days during my 30-plus years as a dental technician, but the five days I spent as the only technician on the island were the busiest of my career," says Lake. "The students screened patients all day, every day, and we barely put a dent in the population needing dental treatment. I feel personally and professionally proud of the good work we did, and of how the students pulled together to handle the challenges. The patients were beaming with gratitude—many asking for hugs and photos before leaving the clinic." For more information on the LDS Student Dental Association or to make a donation to the association's Humanitarian Foundation, visit www.AcademyofLDSDentists.com.
In January, Vinnie Verderosa, CDT, MDT, Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine, spent nine days working...See more with the Giving Through Smiles Foundation in Neltume, Chile, a remote logging village in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. He was the only technician in a 10-person team from New York, including prosthodontists and dentists. They joined forces with dentists and dental students from a university in Chile to fabricate 50 dentures and treat 150 children with rampant tooth decay. A clinic was set up in the lunchroom of a school, along with two rooms for denture work. The volunteers brought materials with them from the U.S., including teeth and articulators donated by Ivoclar Vivadent. The equipment was provided by the Chilean dental school and was very limited, with some of the patients treated on school desks that substituted for dental chairs. Dentists and students from the university met with patients ahead of time to perform exams and schedule appointments, so when the volunteers arrived, they knew what work the patient needed and could immediately take an impression. "We just came in and banged out the work," says Verderosa. And it was a lot of work; he even pulled an all-nighter and worked straight through the next day to finish as many dentures as he could. "It's a great experience working with prosthodontists who are so knowledgeable and caring," says Verderosa, who was also part of the group's inaugural trip last year to Patagonia. "I am blessed to do what I love and to share that by helping give a better quality of life to so many people that otherwise might not receive it." The trip was made possible through a generous donation from the Greater New York Academy of Prosthodontics. For information on how to donate or volunteer for future trips, email [Dr. Jonathan Zamzok](mailto:email@example.com), Founder of the not-for-profit Giving Through Smiles Foundation.
Daily Bite- Sept 2012
47% are freezing pay raises 39% are reducing/eliminating overtime 38% are cutting hours 36% are laying off technicians 25% are reducing/eliminating bonuses 16% are reducing/eliminating health insurance benefits 8% are cutting salaries 7% are instituting forces, unpaid vacations (percentages total more than 100 because respondents could select more than one answer)
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