Filling Cavities, Filling a Need
SDM students treat children in Ecuador
The people in the village of Zumbahua, Ecuador — elevation 12,000 feet and population 1,000 — visit the local hospital for emergencies only. So in January, four students from BU’s Goldman School of Dental Medicine helped to take the local hospital on the road, setting up portable dental clinics in schools throughout the region. The students, Cameron Braasch (SDM’09), Leslie Little (SDM’09), Emerson Ehlis (SDM’09), and David Stangl (SDM’09), spent six to seven hours a day for two weeks filling cavities, performing root canals, and getting a firsthand understanding of the range of dental needs of people in remote, resource-poor communities. The dental school “externship” was based out of the Claudio-Benati Hospital in Zumbahua, and was organized by Residents Educated in Alternative Cultures and Health (REACH).
“We’re often introducing these kids to toothpaste and toothbrushes,” says Braasch. The lessons in oral hygiene — not to mention the examinations and treatments — were new territory for many of the children, and Braasch says the Ecuador experience was equally revelatory for him and his classmates.
“It really allowed me to understand the dental needs that other people have and see how I can help provide care for people who otherwise wouldn’t receive it,” he says. “Being a dentist is more than just practicing in an office every day.”1 Comments