A lot of poor people in the Philippines might need help with their teeth. Help from people like Maria Adamsen and Ann Kristine Hostrup-Henriksen, who over the summer, through the association Dental Health Without Borders (Tandsundhed Uden Grænser) spent two weeks as volunteer dentists in the slums of Philippine city Cebu. And they had a lot of work to do, they told Danish newspaper MetroXpress earlier this week.
“They have such bad teeth that you couldn’t believe it,” Maria Adamsen says. However, she understands why dental work is not at high priority in the Philippines. “If their goal for the day is to scrape money together for a meal, they are not thinking about whether to brush their teeth,” she said.
Impressed by Filipino children
Especially among Filipino children’s dental health is miserable. This is, among other things, because the children eat too much candy because it’s cheap. Actually, you rarely see children without a lollipop, an ice cream, or anything sweet in their hand or mouth. And just treatment of the smallest Filipinos is something that the Danish girls will remember from the trip.
“When you sit with children at seven to eight years and will hike their first permanent tooth out because it is about to rot away, it makes a huge impression,” Maria Adamsen says. In those situations small children showed steadfastness and special braveness compared to Danish children.
“We also see Danish kids on the dental school back in Denmark, and we are used se see them crying just because they are sitting in the chair,” Ann-Kristine Hostrup Henriksen says, and added:
“Here, children down to the age of four sit and have four teeth pulled out without saying anything. And afterwards they were proud as a peacock.”
Huge educational advantage
But why choose to spend a few weeks of the summer holiday to work on the other side of the world under conditions which are not as good and healthy as at home? And why do so when the majority of the trip will be funded of the students own money?
“I think it is two equal parts: Samaritan consciousness and self-interest. It is interesting to see how it works in a different world, and we all want to do something good. But I think you also do it because you want to be better. It gives you a huge educational advantage,” Ann-Kristine Hostrup Henriksen says.
The organization each year sends out dentists, dental students, and hygienists to developing countries. They offer 14 days of free emergency dental care and dental education, work in cooperation with local organizations and authorities. The organization’s work is financed by sponsors, members and the broadcast itself.