On October 29, 2017, three volunteers from the Foundation for Endodontics returned from a mission trip to Treasure Beach, Jamaica, as part of a partnership with Henry Schein Cares Foundation.
Two endodontic residents, Drs. Carolyn A. Kilbride from the University of Connecticut and Lauren E. Marzouca from Tufts University, were accompanied by Foundation Trustee and practicing endodontist, Dr. Susan L. Wood. This mission trip is the sixth for the Foundation Outreach Program, which launched in early 2016. On every trip, the Foundation team is comprised of two endodontic residents and one practicing doctor.
The Foundation team joins other teams of general dentists and predoctoral students. Together, the respective teams provide much-needed but scarcely available dental and endodontic care at the Helping Hands Clinic, established by the Christian Dental Society in 2006.
The Helping Hands Clinic is home to collaboration, generosity and hope. Not only are teams of dental professionals of all specialties teaming up to provide care; foundations and corporations are also collaborating to bring the highest standard of care to the rural community of Treasure Beach. The Henry Schein Cares Foundation continues to support the mission trips as part of a $100,000, five-year pledge to the Outreach Program. As part of the generous commitment, 40 percent of the annual donation consists of donated equipment. Seiler Instruments and Mfg, Co. joined the roster of supporters in October 2016 when they graciously agreed to lend a microscope to the endodontic team to use in Treasure Beach.
On this trip alone, the volunteers treated 477 patients and performed 43 root canals. The Foundation for Endodontics’ team of volunteers also performed the clinic’s first ever apicoectomy when it became apparent that a traditional, nonsurgical root canal could not save the patient’s tooth. All of the services provided equates to an estimated total of $107,000 in care. Behind those impressive numbers, however, are the individual lives impacted by the Foundation’s important outreach work. Drs. Kilbride, Marzouca and Wood provided the highest levels of endodontic care to patients who continue to benefit from the care they receive. A healthy mouth and natural teeth provide confidence, elevated employability and better overall health.
Dr. Kilbride described that one of her patients, a local 15-year-old girl, came to Helping Hands Clinic with intense pain that she’d been experiencing for months. The young patient had walked all the way to the clinic for treatment, and walked back the next day to give Foundation volunteers a proper thank-you. When thanking them, she expressed how dramatically better she felt. She shared with them her interest in attending college in the United States after graduating high school.
On these mission trips, endodontic residents are able to learn from one another and the practicing endodontist accompanying them, and they’re able to educate the residents of Treasure Beach about the value and importance of saving natural teeth. Treasure Beach residents are now known to come to Helping Hands clinic inquiring about root canals, rather than requesting an extraction. Many of the other dental professionals and predoctoral students who share space with the Foundation team in Jamaica report that they’re appreciative of the exposure to endodontic techniques, something they have limited opportunity to study.
All three of the October 2017 mission trip volunteers agreed that the week-long experience was one they’ll never forget. Drs. Kilbride, Marzouca and Wood returned with happy photos of patients treated, connections made with other dental professionals and memories of a beautiful place.
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