Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Are those extra teeth by the tongue?

     Although we do see many interesting dental pathologies and problems at Tenwek that I have blogged about previously like Ameloblastoma, mouth stuck open from yawning, and buffalo attack jaw fractures; the majority of our patients fall into two categories.  Probably 60% of our patients come in with pain and need a tooth extracted.  30% have gums that bleed and need their teeth cleaned.  The final 10% fall into some other category.  
     We are happy to see all patients and strive to treat all with a Christian compassion.  It certainly is not glamorous cleaning a patient's teeth who has not seen a dentist in 15 years.   You can look at the pictures below if you like (I don't intend to gross anyone out..but hey this is my world!) Cleaning teeth with heavy calculus is appropriately like knocking barnacles off the bottom of an old fishing boat that has been docked for years.   But I have no choice but to put on my eye shield, mask, gown, gloves, and go to work. 
      This patient (you can see the before and after picture) was not at all aware his teeth needed to be cleaned.  He had not seen a dentist in 20 years.  As we proceeded to cavitron off all the calculus attached to his lower incisors he commanded us to stop.  He thought we were removing part of his teeth with the ultrasonic shaking and water spray of the cavitron .  We continued after some reassurance.  As you can see now he has gums that are exposed to light for the first time in decades.  
       Sometimes its easy to want to quit as a dentist or call in for some help!  Often times I doing many things I would rarely do as a dentist back in the United States including taking x-rays, filing, scheduling, and cleaning teeth.
       Regardless, I was encouraged by a family practice physician who reiterated;  just think how much pain is relieved at your dental clinic.


Anonymous said...

Wow. What a before and after contrast. We like your attitude. Nothing is ever completely perfect about any job. We take the good with the challenges. Atta boy! Think of the difference he must be experiencing when he runs his tongue around his mouth.
Love, Dad and Mom

Rachel said...

Oh my goodness!...took me a second to get the before and after of the pic, but that's remarkable! Nice work, and defintely forwarding this to Anthony and Vanessa (my friends in dental school) Hope all is going well!

Tim and Jami said...

Hi Sara and Malin. I am a friend of Rachel's from our Oak Harbor days, and am a dental hygienist. She directed me to your blog to read this story. I am on my maternity leave right now, but as a hygienist, I saw that picture and wanted to get to work! I've only had one patient that had that much supra ever! I hope you two continue to have fun overseas!


Megan said...

You know, when I married Gary he hadn't been to the dentist in 15 years due to a painful wisdom tooth removal. I'm hoping his teeth didn't look quite that bad!