A YORK-based dental hygienist has used her skills to teach people about oral health in Zimbabwe.

Cheryl McBroom travelled to the nation with dental charity Dentaid where she provided emergency dentistry for people who have no other access to dental care.

The team of four worked in schools, hospitals, remote villages and even a storeroom, treating hundreds of patients and teaching people how to look after their teeth.

She said: “Zimbabwe has a population of around 14 million and access to healthcare is very difficult especially in the rural areas we visited where roads can flood and be totally impassable.

“Zimbabwe is rich in minerals and fertile land, with a population that has the highest literacy rate in Africa, yet the nation is on the verge of collapse with the economy contracting instead of growing and widespread unrest.”

The 54-year-old, from Alne, in North Yorkshire, works at Richard Fisher and Associates dental practice in Strensall, York.

As a result of the problems in Zimbabwe, many people have never seen a dentist and are living in pain. The volunteers worked alongside a local dentist to provide an outreach clinic at All Souls Missionary Hospital in Mutoko where they saw 47 patients and gave oral health advice to 400 children who received toothbrushes and stickers.

She added: “We spent a day working in a health centre but conditions here were very poor.

“We worked in a dusty storeroom using our portable Dentaid chair and ordinary wooden chairs but there was no running water and toilet facilities were very primitive.”

The team used a pressure cooker to sterilise their instruments and had to work extremely carefully as the HIV rate in the area is 1 in 4.

“In a really busy day we removed 130 badly decayed teeth,” added Mrs McBroom.

“The chair, drills and light had ceased to work so we shone torches into their mouths. It was long day but very rewarding helping to get as many people as possible out of pain.”

Cheryl was sponsored by Easingwold Lions Club, dental companies and her family and friends, which enabled her to take extra dental supplies to Zimbabwe.