Honduras Mission Trip
GP Teaches Honduras Dentists How to Use BaseBone Bone Grafting Material During Mission Trip
Most people who live in Santa Bárbara Honduras and the surrounding small villages simply don’t have access to the medical and dental care they need. While there are some local dentists who travel to these remote areas to offer treatment, they work with outdated equipment and can’t get to patients often enough to provide proper care and education—which is why so many end up with abscesses that require extraction.
Dr. Delwyn Dick, who practices in Idaho, recently traveled to Honduras to not only help treat these underserved patients, but also to educate the Honduran clinicians on the latest techniques and tools they can use to enhance patient care. This was his third trip to Honduras in the last 10 years, but the first time he brought BaseBone bone grafting material with him. OsteoReady donated five vials of the material, and all the local dentists, Dr. Dick and the rest of the team worked with had the opportunity to use it.
“The people who live in these areas don’t know how to take care of their teeth so they end up with large abscesses that have to be removed because there’s no other option,” Dr. Dick said, noting many people only have three or four teeth and not enough bone to support a denture. “We’re working to educate the Honduran dentists to do different things so instead of pulling a front tooth they can save a front tooth. They pull a lot of teeth, and that does damage to the bone. We were able to teach five dentists how to place bone grafting material to help reduce some of the bone loss.”
Dr. Dick uses BaseBone, as well as the OsteoReady implant system, in his general practice. Both are easy to work with, he said, and have become important treatment tools that his patients and his team members love. Before the five-day mission trip, Dr. Dick’s dental assistant suggested reaching out to OsteoReady to ask for the donation, and the GP-focused dental implant company was happy to help.
The team saved BaseBone for the most severe cases, but Dr. Dick said they easily could have used much more. The Honduran dentists loved working with and learning about the material. They saw how much it could benefit their patients, and kept asking Dr. Dick if he had more.
“We used the bone grafting material to show them what can be done,” Dr. Dick said. “The ease of placement was tremendous. It’s easy to work with and adaptable, so post-op discomfort for patients is extremely minimal.”
The benefits of bone grafting
Many of the patients Dr. Dick sees during these trips are teenagers, he said, and he even worked on a case that involved extracting two lower molars that belonged to a 10-year-old boy. When teeth are removed at such a young age, it negatively affects the patient’s long-term health, but bone grafting can help minimize the damage.
“The sooner you lose a tooth the faster you have bone loss,” Dr. Dick said. “If you take teeth out at age 15, 16, 17, by the time the person reaches 40, 50, 60, there really is no bone to maintain a denture. It’s nice to say we can preserve this site and give them better bone quality so maybe someday they can have access to dental implants or an implant-supported prosthesis. The hope is to continue to give them a better level of care than just basic emergency services where you’re removing teeth to lessen the infection rate.”
Dr. Dick first began going to Honduras for mission trips with his church, and through that met doctors and dentists who travel outside of Santa Bárbara to the small underserved villages. During this trip, he was part of a team of 31 professionals from the U.S. and 22 from Honduras who provided dental and medical care. The dentists used two very basic mobile delivery systems to treat patients. Between 300 and 400 people came to the clinics each day, where they also had access to eyeglasses, sunglasses, shoes and lunch.
Beyond showing them how to work with bone grafting material, Dr. Dick also taught local dentists about composites (something they don’t work with very often) and updated them on current bonding systems. He also showed them how to use instruments like forceps and periotomes to offer atraumatic extractions for their patients.
“We want to give them access to better equipment and to give them better capabilities so the restorative work they do lasts longer,” Dr. Dick said. “Some people will walk eight hours to a village if they know we’re coming, have multiple teeth removed then walk eight hours home without any pain meds. You can tell they’ve been in pain for a long time and are thrilled to receive the care. Our hope is we can give the dentists the tools to provide the dental treatment these patients need.”
In the next year or two, Dr. Dick would like to bring some of the Honduran dentists to the U.S. to train them on different techniques, such as root canal therapy. Along with education and training, working with various dental companies to give these dentists access to better equipment and materials, such as BaseBone, will go a long way in improving the quality of care they provide—and their patients’ quality of life.
“Every trip is a step in a better direction,” Dr. Dick said. “It’s easier if we give them the tools to do it because they care so much for their people. And it holds them accountable. We have to educate them on how to help their own people. That’s our goal. In the next few years we’d like to see these villages have access to routine dental and medical care. When we do that maybe we’ll go to another area and try to do the same.”
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