The May issue of The Atlantic included an article about dentistry. The author Ferris Jabr discussed “the truth” about the profession, that “it’s much less scientific — and more prone to gratuitous procedures — than you may think,” as the headline of the online version of the article stated.
Most students and faculty who organize and participate in overseas mission trips are motivated by the sincere desire to help others. Often they pay for their own travel through combinations of personal assets, donations and active fundraising. I think these mission trips are well-intended acts of caring. However, as a public health dentist I question the decision to spend so much time and money providing services that generally do very little to eliminate the underlying disease process, do not empower communities to improve their health status and waste resources on travel that might be spent in a much more cost-effective way to achieve improved oral health.