Under the leadership of dentist West Ficken, dental care has been an integral part of the OSA ministry since its inception in 2003. On each OSA trip, the dental team typically has two dentists, two or three dental hygienists, and two or more volunteers working as dental assistants. Typically, more than 250 patients are treated in the OSA dental clinic during each of the one week long campaigns.
As a result of malnutrition, lack of preventive measures, and lack of access to professional dental care, many of the residents of Collique have severe tooth and gum disease. We have the capability to perform comprehensive dental care with the exception of tooth implant procedures. With each successive OSA dental campaign to Collique, we see improvements in the overall dental health of the residents that comes from thorough cleaning and dental treatment, better dental hygiene education, and preventive measures such as a comprehensive fluoride program.
Each dental hygienist typically sees about 20 patients per day. The majority of the hygiene patients are young children and teenagers. For most, this is the first time to have a complete cleaning or treatment for gum disease by a dental hygienist. The hygienists emphasize the need for better daily dental care. OSA typically brings more than 1000 new toothbrushes on each mission trip. We provide each patient with a supply of toothbrushes equal to the number of people in their family. Prior to their visit with the OSA dental team, many families had (at most) one toothbrush to be shared by everyone in the family.
For the first few OSA mission trips, the dentists and hygienists used patio lounge chairs as “dental chairs.” During 2006, OSA acquired three used dental chairs and one new chair. These dental chairs and many of the instruments required by the dentists and hygienists are stored in Collique or Lima. Having the instruments “on site” means less dental equipment and fewer supplies need to be brought as “baggage” on each mission trip. It is our hope that having equipment on site will encourage other dental teams to travel to Collique to use the OSA facilities for dental care. If you are a dentist or dental hygienist with an interest in ministry to marginalized people of Peru, please use the “contact us” link to express your interest.