Mental health as a barrier to care

My patient was escorted to our urgent care clinic wearing an ankle monitor. Her chief complaint was that she felt pain around every tooth. When I took a closer look, the source of her pain became apparent. She had a mouth full of non-functional root tips. Almost every root tip showed signs of infection. My patient was from a local drug rehabilitation center, and she was 10 months sober from a heroin addiction. As a result, she wasn’t allowed any prescription narcotics or nitrous oxide, as instructed by her program due to fear of relapse.

Closing the dental-medical diastema

A 5 year-old girl presented to our pediatric dental clinic. Her family lives three hours away, and had rented a hotel nearby to accommodate and prepare for her restorative dental procedures under general anesthesia. Due to her young age and extensive dental needs, sedation was the only safe and effective option at this point. She had never seen a dentist before. She was terrified, and was in a great deal of pain. She was up to date with medical check-ups and healthy otherwise, but was never referred for preventive or restorative treatment until late into her caries progression.

My experience with refugees

April 7, 1994 was a normal Thursday for most people. But in Eastern Africa, this date marked the start of the Rwandan genocide. An estimated 800,000 lives were lost during the subsequent 100 days. As the genocide transitioned to the Congo, 500,000 Congolese citizens sought refuge throughout central Africa. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates there are more than 18 million refugees in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 3 million refugees have settled in the U.S. since 1980, and many are unable to access health care.

Give Kids A Smile: addressing barriers to care and future trends

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 6.04.12 PMThe American Dental Association began GKAS more than 10 years ago in an effort to treat underserved children. Many children experience barriers to dental care. Some children do not have dental insurance, and some cannot afford the specific treatment needed or live too far from a clinic. I co-chaired Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) 2014 at our school. It was tough work coordinating volunteers, patient flowcharts, supplies and staff. I am incredibly thankful for my hardworking co-chairs and dedicated committee. We had a successful event and treated almost 200 patients. We provided care that amounted to over $45,000 (based on our school’s fees)…

Why rural dentistry is important to me

rural area thailandI grew up in a small rural village in Thailand with less than 500 people. The village was located approximately 2-3 hours from the city. Growing up, I was under the impression that dentists only pull and straighten teeth. I had no idea that they do more than just extractions and orthodontic treatments. For 13 years, I had only seen a dentist once for an extraction. The only reason I even visited the dentist was because my parents and brother had a difficult time pulling one of my teeth.