Toothaches and Heartaches

I’ll be honest.

Hearing each night about the hundreds of teeth that the dentists pulled every day on board was starting to make me cringe… and wonder.

I love what we’re doing, but why were so many teeth being pulled? It wasn’t as though I doubted their integrity… but still, it didn’t add up in my mind. I mean, what does someone do if you pull 18 teeth from their mouth? How is that possible?

Is this really necessary?!

And then it was my turn to head up to the clinic. It has the sterile smell of any doctor’s office you’ve ever been to, mixed with the sickly sweet smell of too much beetlenut chewing. People waiting nervously… but excitedly…

I put on my mask and glasses to maintain the hygiene standards of the clinic and stepped up to our first patient.

It only took a moment to see. This was not fancy dental work. This was basic, primary and emergency care. His “teeth” were nothing but black stubs – rotted away and causing deep infection in his mouth. Sometimes when the teeth came out, they revealed giant pussy abscesses.

It was absolutely sickening. Not in the “you’re the kid no one wants to be on the playground with sort of way” but in the “oh my goodness, your life is at risk from the infection that is growing inside their mouth sort of way.”

The heartbreaking sort of way.

Oral care is something we can easily take for granted. Something we often complain about because let’s face it – its not always comfortable on our mouths… or our wallets!

But here, oral care is not only virtually unheard of, but the lack of it is causing major disease and infection in people… and they don’t even know it!

So as our dentists came down each night, rubbing their sore wrists (I now know from first hand experience the kind of muscle it takes to get those teeth out!) and sharing war stories, that not only were they helping to give brighter smiles, they were also helping to save lives in a very real way.


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