Bringing healthy smiles back to Nicaraguan community
PARRY SOUND - There’s more than 100 people smiling a little brighter thanks to Parry Sound dentists.
Lin Raimundo and her dental team at Parry Sound Family Dentistry have just returned from a trip to the South American country of Nicaragua, where they performed everything from cleanings to extractions. Organized by Threefold Ministries, the team was there to help out the locals who will generally not otherwise have the opportunity to see a dentist.
“People are waiting all year long,” said Raimundo. “They get to see a dentist one week out of a year. If they’re lucky, they get chosen to come down to the facility, because I can’t see everybody but we’ll see as many people as we can.”
In the week they were in the country, Raimundo and her team saw close to 150 people. They saw between 25 and 30 people a day at a facility that would bus in groups.
“People came from many different communities,” Raimundo said. “One, for example, was a sugar cane community, and they all had teeth sort of rotting in the front because they suck on sugar cane all the time. We got to restore some of those teeth.”
Included in the team were local dental workers Raimundo, Michelle Maltas, Kayla Klink and Debra Mahon. They described the experience as uplifting and expressed interest in taking part in similar trips in the future.
Mahon, a restorative hygienist, said she was struck with the positive attitude the Nicaraguan locals always displayed.
“The biggest thing for me was how happy the people were there with absolutely nothing. Our society is all materialistic - people want to buy more things to make them happy. People there have absolutely nothing, just family, community and closeness. They’re very religious. They smiled endlessly, and were very appreciative,” Mahon said.
Despite the stark differences in the socioeconomic status between Parry Sound and Nicaragua there are surprising similarities in the dental issues of both places. The team noticed that there were a lot of the same dental needs present in the Third World country as there are here in Canada. However, Parry Sounders hoping to have healthy teeth do have a head start over people in Nicaragua.
“Here, people are educated right from little wee ones on brushing and flossing,” Mahon said. “They may not do it, but they know how to prevent tooth decay and whatnot. Down there, they don’t have that initial contact education. It is getting better.”
The organization we actually deal with is educating in a lot of different aspects, which is good, because otherwise they wouldn’t get there.”
The trip was put together by Threefold Ministries, a non-denominational Christian group that organizes trips to Nicaragua to provide various medical services.
The dental team was set up in a gymnasium-like area where curtains were hung to provide separated areas for the staff to work in.
To keep the extensive equipment up and running, the team had the assistance of local resident Robert Fisher, who acted as kind of a construction and maintenance person for the trip.
“If you imagine four dental types using equipment that are basically pumps, tubes compressors, there’s inevitably a lot of things that are going to go wrong and it seems to me I spent all my work fixing equipment,” said Fisher.
Now that the team is back to their usual office in Parry Sound, Raimundo said it was a life-changing experience and she feels very fortunate to have a skill that she can share with others.