Last year, the NYU College of Dentistry conducted its first Nicaraguan outreach to provide screenings and treatment for children and adults in the rural village of Chiquilistagua. Because of the extraordinary need for dental care that they found, members of that outreach, together with new team members from NYU’s Advanced Education Program in Endodontics and its College of Nursing, returned in March to Chiquilistagua, home to more than 11,000 inhabitants—but no local dentist.
In addition to DDS students, an international program student, pediatric and oral surgery residents, and general dentistry and pediatric dentistry faculty and staff, the team included six postgraduate endodontic residents, two nursing students, one endodontic faculty member, and one nursing faculty member—35 people in all.
The team set up a temporary clinic at the Centro Escolar de Chiquilistagua, a small school in Chiquilistagua, where it saw a total of 751 patients and provided 1,828 treatments over a 1-week period. Services included 25 prophies, 152 fluoride varnishes, 557 sealants, 351 restorations, 364 extractions, 57 post and/or core build-ups, and 266 x-rays. In addition, almost 100 teeth were treated endodontically and saved. Local school children and their teachers attended hygiene awareness presentations, and a fluoride and sealant program was initiated.
“We are trying to expand from a traditional outreach focus on oral disease prevention and health promotion to encompass both more complex dental care and general health and well-being,” said Dr Stuart M. Hirsch, Associate Dean for International Affairs and Development. “The addition of both nurses and endodontists allowed us to do this and greatly enhanced the program’s impact. The nurses improved upon the triage area by examining each patient, providing treatments for specific health care needs, expanding health education, and processing patients through the clinic.”
Paul Rosenberg, DDS, Professor and Chair of the Department of Endodontics, called it “an extraordinary opportunity for our students to become sensitized to the needs of the underserved in other, far less affluent, countries.”
“The visit was a profound, moving experience for all of us,” Rosenberg said. “Hours of hard work in difficult conditions but highly productive and satisfying for the heart and soul. The children were beautiful, and the community was so welcoming. We treated nearly 100 teeth, many of which were anterior teeth that were immediately restored by a restorative team. A portable, handheld digital x-ray unit made it all possible.”