Vancouver BC dentist Liz Johnson-Lee spent a week in Cambodia with a team of seventeen consisting of dentists, certified dental assistants, a hygienist and other volunteers. “We all came together from different parts of BC for the purpose of a dental mission to serve those less fortunate.”
The team set up a mobile dental clinic in a school in Puok, a village 30 minutes west of Siem Reap to offer free service to the young and old. Dental decay is a definite problem due to a combination of poor or lack of regular oral hygiene and a high consumption of colas, refined sugars and processed foods. Buying soda pop is much cheaper than milk and also more accessible. Electricity in small villages is often an issue and thus refrigeration is a problem. This problem is very common in other developing countries as well. I have seen many young infants being fed cola through a bottle by grandmother as mother is working and these babies already have their primary teeth rotted down to stumps.
The team did many fillings, extractions and even some root canals to relieve pain and save front teeth. Many of these young women rely on their appearance to get married or to get a job. It is wonderful to see their faces when they look at themselves in the mirror with white teeth again. More importantly, providing education about diet and oral hygiene is where volunteer dental teams can be most impactful. We would like to return to the village of Puok in the near future to continue promoting good oral health.