Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
York dentist helps teach health workers in Tanzania
A YORK dentist has played her part in teaching health workers in a poverty-stricken African country to carry out potentially lifesaving tooth treatment.
Dr Gwyneth Morris, of Thorpe Dental Group, spent two-and-a-half weeks in Tanzania on a volunteer programme run by the Bridge2Aid dental charity, giving clinical staff in the country’s remote Karagwe district a fast-track course in care, which can prevent people dying or being shunned.
The 34-year-old, a dentist for 11 years, was inspired to help after hearing a presentation from the charity at an awards ceremony.
She said she was amazed by the dental skills Tanzanian health workers quickly developed.
“There are dentists in Tanzania’s cities, but hardly any in rural areas and the problems this causes are potentially life-threatening.
‘‘Without treatment, an abscess can spread and the worst-case scenario is that it can be fatal, while somebody with a chronic infection can be ostracised,” said Dr Morris.
“The whole ethos of Bridge2Aid’s work is that it is sustainable, by showing local health workers with no previous dental training how to do emergency dentistry. We started with the basics – examinations, taking a patient’s history, making a diagnosis, treatment plans – then moved on to the theory and practice of anaesthesia and finally extractions. The end result is they can go back into their communities and take teeth out.”
As part of a team of seven dentists and four dental nurses, Dr Morris said her teaching experience was taken to a new level.
She said: “Watching somebody insert a needle was nerve-wracking, so you can imagine how steep the learning curve is for these workers, but they were unbelievable.
“I got a lot of satisfaction from how they interacted with patients, became more gentle and dextrous and developed their skills.
‘‘We take things like how we hold instruments for granted, but they did three days’ training and were in at the deep end, it was amazing.
“It makes you immensely grateful for everything we have available in the UK and realise we’re lucky to work in a brilliant environment.
‘‘The patients, who may have had years or even decades of tooth pain, were so appreciative, and seeing the gratitude in their eyes is reason enough for me to want to return.”
More information about Bridge2Aid is at bridge2aid.org
Comments are closed on this article.