Individual Volunteers

Dentists make an impact

By March 3, 2016 September 11th, 2019 No Comments
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This February 29-March 3, 3 professors, 2 dentists, 1 oral surgeon, and 14 students from the Dental Hygiene Department at Minnesota State University, Mankato provided dental services at Holy Cross’s dental clinic and at New Horizons school.

This was the school’s 5th trip to Belize. Ms. Brigette Cooper, who leads the team says “it is extremely rewarding to provide dental care each year and see the difference we are making in people’s dental health. Patients that we treat are extremely appreciative for the care they receive and we feel like we are making a difference in their lives.”

The dental hygiene students, under supervision of experienced dentists, treated 33 students at Holy Cross and about 400 students at new horizons school.

Dr. Gary Eichmeyer, who has  participated in many dental outreach programs including 4 trips to Holy Cross, was particularly aware of the positive impact the dental program has on the students at Holy Cross. “At Holy Cross, most of the students’ teeth are in good condition compared to the condition of the students at the other school that has not had the same program. This dental clinic is making a difference.”

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There was still a need for intervention. Dr. Eichmeyer did an exam on a 12 year old boy at Holy Cross who had a severe infection on one of his top front teeth. In order to save the tooth, Dr. Richard Kim, an oral surgeon, did an apicoectomy to remove the infection at the end of the root of the tooth, and then Dr. Eichmeyer completed root canal treatment. Without the work of Dr. Eichmeyer and Dr. Kim, the boy most likely would have needed to have the tooth extracted. They definitely made a difference in the life of that boy.The dental hygiene students find that coming to Belize in their senior year, right before they graduate, is the most rewarding and best experience they have in the dental hygiene program. They are exposed to how other cultures live and get a huge sense of satisfaction when they provide care to people that need it. They always say they want to come back to Belize in the future after they have worked in an office for a while to do more volunteering.

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The MSU, M dental hygiene program starting volunteering in Belize because the president of the university wanted to have a positive impact on the people here.  A Mankato business man owns the Blue Tang Inn, and has been very supportive over the years in providing rooms for the students to stay in. We hope to provide dental care for the Holy Cross students for many more years to come.
If you are a dentist who would like to volunteer, or know a dentist who would like to volunteer, click here for more information.