We all want to take care of our teeth, but the unfortunate truth is that many people don’t take the steps necessary to do so They always have the best intentions, and perhaps they even make a plan and attempt to stick to it, but the truth is, many people are failing at what should be a simple, yet important, task.
Some people don’t think that proper brushing, flossing, and overall dental health is essential because the worst that can happen is a cavity, which they can get fixed at the dentist in a single afternoon. They treat it like it’s no more eventful than a haircut. Unfortunately, they couldn’t be more wrong.
Rather than get into the specifics as to of why a cavity isn’t something to be taken likely, what we’d like to address right now is the fact that there are other dental problems that can be caused by poor care. So if you’re not brushing or flossing your teeth and are thinking that a cavity or two is the worst thing you can experience, this article is definitely for you.
Whether you’re on a date or simply going to work every day, having bad breath can spell bad news. This is something that doesn’t just affect you — it can affect everyone around you. At some point in our lives, there’s a good chance that we’ll work at a job or have a class where there’s that one person who is known for having bad breath. Of course, no one wants to say anything to him (or her). Instead, the person gets avoided or, even worse, snickered about behind their back. Making fun of someone is never a nice or honorable thing to do, but can you imagine approaching someone and telling the person he or she has bad breath? The embarrassment will be felt by both parties. The good news is that proper dental hygiene will solve most problems with bad breath. If not, then ask your dentist about it, because you could be suffering from gum disease or some other underlying issue.
Who would’ve thought that oral health was somehow linked to pregnancy complications? It may sound odd, but it’s true — studies that shown that poor oral health can lead to certain complications. The fears typically include premature birth and a low birth weight, but improper oral health of the mother can also put the infant at risk of tooth decay. You obviously don’t want to start a child’s life off in this way, so it’s important that an expectant mother be diligent when it comes to proper care of her teeth and gums. It’s also a good idea to schedule a dental visit in order to discuss extra steps that can be taken for even better protection for the baby.
Various Medical Issues
When you don’t take care of your teeth and gums, the inside of your mouth isn’t the only thing you need to worry about. Truth is, outside of your mouth has plenty to worry about as well. Poor oral and dental health have been linked to such problems as dementia, pneumonia, kidney disease, cancer, and diabetes. Some of the precise links are unclear, so it’s best to be on the safe side by brushing and flossing on a regular basis to improve your overall dental and oral health.
Do you have cavities that need to be taken care of or any other possible dental problems? Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, is ready to help you take control of your dental and oral health by finding ways to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible.
Your alarm clock goes off to alert you to the beauty of yet another day. You drag yourself out of bed and stumble down the hallway, bleary-eyed and barely awake. You walk into your kitchen, brew up your tastiest coffee blend, and take a big ol’ sip from your favorite cup. Just another typical day of damaging your teeth.
We’re sorry to break it to you, but certain beverages that you love are unhealthy for your teeth. As hard as it may be to hear, we’re going to give you some tough love and provide you with some examples:
Oh, sweet coffee. The aroma. The warmth. The caffeine. Drinking a cup of coffee — or four — has become part of what millions of people refer to as their “morning routine.” Unfortunately, coffee has two negative effects on your teeth. First, it will stain your teeth. Second, the highly acidic nature of coffee will erode the enamel, leaving your susceptible to cavities and other problems.
We won’t be too harsh on tea, because studies have shown that it has a number of health benefits, including the possible reduction of gum disease. Plus, it doesn’t damage your teeth enamel as much as other acidic drinks. That being said, keep in mind that tea can also stain your teeth. To keep the negative effects low, we suggest that you avoid loading it up with sugar.
Many people turn to orange juice as a healthy alternative to other morning beverages, especially when kids turn up their noses at drinking milk. That’s why it’s so disconcerting to learn that many types of orange juice should be avoided. That’s because they’re often loaded with sugar and can be as unhealthy for your teeth as a can of soda thanks to its acidity. If kids are making a stink about drinking milk, we suggest that you provide them with water, even if it’s a zero calorie, sugar-free flavored water from time to time.
For years, energy drinks have been touted as healthy alternatives to soda and other beverages. That’s why so many people have been drinking them as a way to start their day. But have you ever taken a gander at the nutrition label on the back? You know what you’ll find on the majority of them? That’s right… SUGAR! And even if you select a sugar-free option, the drink’s acidity and carbonation can damage your enamel.
Whether you prefer to call it soda or pop, one word we can all agree on to call this type of drink is simple: unhealthy. Although you may not think of soda as a morning beverage, many people do grab a soda in the morning. Many of them will nurse the drink for hours, which means you’re constantly bathing your teeth in acid. Do your body and your teeth a favor, and at least cut down on how much you drink.
Are we saying that you should completely cut out all of these beverages? While some like soda and energy drinks should definitely be considered a part of your “do not drink” list, it really comes down to moderation. A daily routine of coffee might keep you going throughout the week, but it’s important to know the negative effects and do what you can to avoid them.
The best way to ensure dental and oral health is to follow common sense when it comes to care, in addition to visiting your dentist on a regular basis. If you’re in need of a check-up or dental work, we encourage you to contact Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, right away.
Halloween is in a few days, so it won’t be long before ghosts, goblins, and ghouls will be in our midst. As adults, the holiday can be a whole lot of fun, but for parents, the real focus is toward their children.
There are numerous safety concerns that are tackled each year, from avoiding costumes with masks to wearing reflectors if kids are going to be walking up and down neighborhood streets. Being a dentistry website, though, what we’d like to take on is the aftermath of Halloween — the candy feast!
What can you do to ensure your children’s dental health while they scarf down their Halloween candy like there’s no tomorrow? We suggest that you try these simple tips:
Limit the Amount of Candy
There is absolutely no reason for your child to be given full access to dozens of pieces of candy. Eating an entire bagful of candy will not only harm your child’s teeth, it’s likely to make them sick if they gorge themselves. Instead, tell them to pick out a certain number of their favorites, whether it’s 10, 15, or maybe more. To avoid arguments, it’s best to inform them of this plan before Trick ‘r Treating and make their agreement to this idea contingent on getting the candy in the first place.
Set a Treat Time
No matter how well-behaved your child is, the allure of candy may turn them into a ravenous beast who will lie, cheat, and steal to obtain it. You can help prevent this by setting a specific treat time. This goes for all instances of treats — not just Halloween. When your child knows that they will be able to enjoy a piece of candy at a given time, they are less likely to attempt a coup and eat your hidden stash.
Organize a Brushing Schedule
This is something every parent should do, regardless of the impending holiday. Children do best when they are provided with a structure around certain activities. Brushing and flossing both fall into that category, so it’s important to establish a daily brushing schedule and stick to it as much as you can. And obviously, don’t allow your children to eat any of their Halloween candy after their teeth have been brushed for the night.
Check Their Teeth with Disclosing Tablets
Many parents have never heard of disclosing tablets, and they’re definitely something to be aware of. They are chewable tablets that will temporarily stain plaque on a child’s teeth so that you can see the build-up of such plaque for yourself. It’s a good idea to schedule a weekly “disclosing session”, and if you don’t like the use of tablets for whatever reason, there are swabs and solutions you can pick up as well.
Make Brushing Fun
Whether it’s Halloween or not, young children are more likely too brush their teeth regularly if you make the activity fun. A great way to do this is to purchase a toothbrush of their favorite character. You should be replacing the toothbrush every few months anyway, and Halloween is a great opportunity to switch it out with something they’ll like. And if you let them choose the brush, even better.
Are you interested in more ways to help maintain your child’s dental health? Do you have an adult sweet tooth and plan to eat a lot of candy in the next few days? Are you using your children to help you score said candy on Halloween? Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, cares about a person’s dental and oral health, so if you’re ready to get started on making improvements for you and your children, contact us right away for an appointment.
Let’s talk about a topic today that many people shudder to think about — oral cancer. Other types of cancer get a lot more attention, but the truth is that oral cancer is a big problem in our country. This is mostly due to the fact that it’s difficult to diagnose and by the time you receive a diagnosis, the cancer is late in its development. This increases its mortality rate substantially. In fact, once diagnosed, there is a 57 percent chance that a person will succumb to the disease within five years.
We’re not trying to scare you — at least not too much — but this is an important issue that should be addressed, and one that many people don’t even think about until it’s too late. Each year, several thousand people die from oral cancer, and while that might not seem like a lot compared to other cancers, it comes out to roughly one related death every hour. And even if you do survive oral cancer, you are likely to spend a lot of money for treatment and may find yourself disfigured and in need of reconstructive procedures.
Did we say that we weren’t trying to scare you? Sorry about that. But this is an important topic.
The good news is that there are ways to help avoid oral cancer. Here are some actions you can start taking today:
It will come as no secret to anyone that smoking tobacco is bad for you. Smoking causes many types of health problems and one of the greatest things you can do for your body as a whole is to quit. Oral cancer is also very common for those who use chewing tobacco, so if this is something you enjoy — stop right now! But whether it’s smoking or chewing that you’re trying to stop, you’re not alone in getting help. These days, there are support groups, gums, and many other helpful ways to stop.
Eat the Right Way
A lesser concern, but one that you should think about, is the ingestion of processed meats. These meats contain nitrosamines, which are also found in tobacco and can increase your chances of oral cancer. It is also recommended that you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to decrease your chances as well.
Avoid Risky Sexual Behavior
The idea of risky sexual behavior isn’t something that typically pops up while discussing dentistry, but when it comes to oral cancer, it definitely needs to be addressed. In recent years, the number of oral cancer cases among young men and women has been increasing. This has been attributed to oral sex, thanks to the transmission of a particular strain of the human papilloma virus (HPV-16). So in addition to proper dental care, be careful out there.
Check Your Mouth
If you experience any unusual bumps, sore, or other changes in your mouth or throat, contact your dentist or doctor immediately. As previously stated, oral cancer’s mortality rate increases substantially because it gets caught too late. Instead of being a statistic, treat these types of changes as an emergency. And when you call your dentist, tell them what you’re fearful of, so that they’ll make every effort to get you in as soon as possible.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Like all other dental issues, visiting your dentist on a regular basis can help when it comes to oral cancer. A dentist will be able to identify the early stages of oral cancer, and will help you get started on treatment right away. And the earlier you get diagnosed, the better the outcome is likely to be.
Whether you’re worried about oral cancer or have a lesser dental problem that you need to have dealt with, Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, can help you out. Our trained staff will help ensure your oral and dental health, and will assist you with caring for your teeth in the future.
Dentists treat a wide variety of dental issues on a daily basis. The unfortunate truth is that many people don’t take care of their oral health in the way they should, and when they visit the dentist, they’re often shocked at the condition of their teeth and gums.
The truth is, day in and day out, most issues that are handled by dentists deal are common. Which are the most common dental issues that could easily be avoided with a little time and effort? It basically breaks down to three problems:
We’ll start with the biggie. Cavities are the most common problems that most people are likely to develop, and are often the result of our culture’s sugar-loving lifestyle. A cavity is formed when plaque, which is full of harmful bacteria, builds up on the surface of a tooth and “eats” a hole in it. Unfortunately, your teeth do not have the ability to heal themselves, which means you’ll need to have a dentist fill it.
How can you avoid cavities? The first thing you can do is limit your intake of foods that are high in sugar, which can drastically cut down on the tendency for a cavity to form. But more importantly, it comes down to proper dental care. Develop a daily routine where you’re brushing and flossing twice a day — once in the morning and once before bed — and you’ll see less cavities. The second thing you need to do is visit your dentist once a year for a professional cleaning and exam.
When plaque attacks your gums, it’s known as gum disease — or periodontal disease, if you want to get fancy (or technical). The first stage of this problem is gingivitis, where gums can become red and swollen, and will easily bleed when you brush or floss. The second stage is periodontitis, where the problem has advanced to the point where your gums will begin to shrink away from the teeth and create spaces that are prone to infection. If left untreated, tooth loss becomes a real concern.
Diabetes and hormonal change can cause gum disease, and smoking is a big contributor as well. Luckily, unlike the formation of cavities, gingivitis can be reversed with regular brushing and flossing. That being said, a visit to the dentist for a proper evaluation can help you get rid of the problem before it becomes more serious.
Think of enamel as an invisible barrier with one job — the protection of your teeth. Unfortunately, enamel can be worn down, resulting in tooth sensitivity, discoloration, cracks, and chips. Tooth sensitivity can be a big deal, because it’s often painful, while erosion of enamel also makes you more prone to cavities.
If you’ve ever visited our blog before, you’re probably well-versed in the dangers of highly acidic food and beverages, which can eat away at your enamel. Avoiding such things, especially favorites like high-fructose sodas, will go a long way to ensure your enamel’s survival. Other ways to protect enamel include drinking water throughout the day to wash away any acid, in addition to brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and soft-bristed toothbrush on a regular basis.
Teeth are essential for a good life, and that’s why it’s so important to take care of them. Brushing and flossing twice a day, in the proper manner, can go a long way to ensuring dental health, and visiting a dentist at least once a year is a great way to keep things going strong. If you’d like to know more about steps you can take or need to set up an appointment, contact Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, and he’ll put you on the path to quality dental and oral care.
Having a great smile is one of the best ways to get noticed by others. Teens know this all too well. During that time in their lives, appearance is paramount. Looking good can improve self-esteem, and your child’s teeth is often one of the first things that get noticed. If they’re yellow or discolored, your child probably isn’t going to be heading to school as a very happy camper.
Teeth whitening is a safe, effective way for anyone to improve his or her smile, which is why it’s been catching on in recent years. However, if you’re going to allow your teen to get their teeth whitened, there are a few tips you should follow:
Tip #1: Consult with Your Dentist
Before you start any kind of teeth whitening treatment, it’s important that you speak to your dentist about it. Your dentist will examine your child’s teeth and advise you on how to proceed. Although there are at-home whitening treatments, an in-office visit is usually faster and more effective. Plus, your dentist can identify and repair any dental problems prior to treatment, such as cavities or enamel erosion, ensuring that your teen get the very most out of the treatment.
Tip #2: Whitening Toothpaste is Not a Simple Cure
The use of whitening toothpaste has increased in popularity over the years, in part because the idea of whitening your teeth while brushing every day is quite an attractive proposition. However, it’s important to realize that while these toothpastes can be effective in removing surface stains, bigger problems won’t be affected too much. You’re not going to see a drastic change in the appearance of your teeth simply by using a teeth whitening toothpaste.
Tip #3: Avoid At-home Whitening Treatments for Youngsters
The suggested age you’ll hear from most dentists for the use of whitening treatments is around 14 or 15. If your child is under the age of 13, you definitely want to avoid at-home whitening treatments. Instead, confer with your dentist to see what he or she recommends for your teenage son or daughter. If your dentist tells you to hold off a year or two, you should heed that advice.
Tip #4: Explain to Your Teen What to Expect
Teens these days have grown up in a very “immediate” world. Meaning that when they want to see a movie, listen to music, contact a friend, etc., they’re able to do so right within moments due to emerging technology that often fits in their pockets. So you may need to explain to them that teeth whitening will work a little differently. They must learn to be patient so as to avoid overuse of whitening products, which can cause intense tooth sensitivity.
Tip #5: Teach Them How to Avoid Yellow Teeth Post-Whitening
Once treatment begins, it’s important that your teens be told how to keep their teeth from going right back to yellow again. Explain to them that they must limit their consumption of teeth stainers, which include soda, coffee, and smoking. And, of course, proper dental care like the 2-2-2 rule — flossing twice a day, along with brushing twice a day for a period of two minutes — must be followed if they wish to keep their teeth in tiptop shape. And as a bonus, you’ll be able to avoid paying for a second whitening treatment.
Everyone should have a great smile. Whitening is an effective way to improve your smile, but you need to ensure proper dental and oral health in order to make the most of it. For further information, or to set up an appointment, call the office of Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS. He’ll fix whatever problems you have and put you on a regimen to follow that will ensure your future dental health.
A couple weeks ago, we touched on five bad habits that are ruining your teeth. But if you thought those were the only ones, you thought wrong! Now we’re back with five more bad habits that you should cut out right now or else risk damage and expensive dental work. And without further adieu, here they are:
Bad Habit #1: Brushing Too Hard
As you know, it’s important that you do a good job when brushing your teeth. If you don’t put a good amount of effort into the endeavor, you’ll often be wasting your time. The problem is that some people will get too vigorous with their brushing. If you put too much pressure on your teeth and gums, you may end up causing more harm than good. Hard brushing can wear down your enamel, irritate your gums, and increase your teeth’s sensitivity to cold. In some instances, you may even find that brushing too hard causes cavities. If you feel that you may be a little vigorous, lighten up a little and choose a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Bad Habit #2: Sucking on Lemons
You know that old insult “Go suck on a lemon!”? The funny thing is that some people actually do suck on lemons. They just love the taste of these bitter fruits, and given the fact that people now find hamburgers made with a pair of donuts instead of buns appetizing, we really can’t throw stones. Unfortunately, lemons are very acidic and sucking on them for extended periods of time can corrode your teeth’s enamel, creating a rough texture on the surface of your teeth. If you care about your dental health, this is one habit you should definitely kick right away.
Bad Habit #3: Chewing on Various Objects
As human beings, we tend to get bored very easily. For some reason, this often means that we’ll stick whatever is handy in our mouths in order to keep our brain occupied and pass the time. Certain objects, such as glasses, pens, and pencils, are especially “normal” for such chewing. But as you can imagine, chewing on plastic or wooden items is not healthy for your teeth. Teeth have been known to shift or even crack due to this habit, and it may even damage existing dental work. Our advice: find another way to cure your boredom.
Bad Habit #4: Tooth Grinding and Jaw Clenching
Many people grind their teeth or clench their jaw without ever being aware of it. These actions are typically caused by stress. The bad news is that such severe pressure placed upon your teeth can cause micro-fractures, and sometimes even full-on fractures, to occur in your teeth. Plus, if you’ve had dental work in the past, clenching or grinding can put this work at risk of damage.
Bad Habit #5: Sucking Your Thumb
While a surprising number of adults continue to suck their thumbs (just not in public, so you’ll never know), the primary focus of this bad habit is toward children. Little kids suck their thumbs for a number of reasons, but it mostly has to do with a sense of security or safety. Unfortunately, thumb sucking can cause permanent damage to a child’s permanent teeth over time, specifically misalignment. This misalignment can lead to difficulty chewing, in addition to breathing problems. The sooner you can get your child to stop sucking his or her thumb, the better off everyone will be.
If you need further help breaking these habits or simply need a dental check-up, contact the friendly office of Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS. We will help guide you on your way to dental and oral perfection.
Getting your young children to brush and floss is like… well, it’s like pulling teeth, if we’re being perfectly honest. Every parent out there has experienced some kind of pushback when trying to teach and enforce proper dental care habits. Kids simply can’t understand how important brushing and flossing truly is, so they’ll do everything within their power to get it over with as soon as possible. They may even attempt to trick you into thinking they’ve brushed their teeth thoroughly, when they may not have brushed or flossed at all.
If you want a young child’s teeth to stay in good shape, you’ll have to take the bull by the horns and devise a plan to help them along. Here are some quick strategies that we would recommend:
Make Brushing and Flossing Fun
Most young kids don’t like to do anything that they perceive as work. They’ll play video games, watch TV, create Lego monstrosities, and read books until the cows come home, but things like showering, cleaning up, and brushing their teeth aren’t exactly things that make them jump for joy. To counteract this fact, you need to find ways to make brushing and flossing fun for them. Try making up an adventure story of how Super Brush and Wonder Floss are on a mission to defeat the evil Plaque Army. Another strategy is to use a catchy song where they can happily brush and floss along with the tune. Or make it into a counting exercise in the number of brush strokes. The point is, be creative!
Encourage Proper Technique
It can’t be all fun and games, so it’s important that you focus on helping your young children understand proper brushing and flossing techniques. Little kids all want to be seen as older. They emulate their parents pretty much as soon as they’re born. Keep this up in the bathroom by explaining that Mommy and/or Daddy have healthy teeth because of proper brushing and flossing. Then show them your teeth. This will help spark their interest and increase the likelihood that they’ll do a good job.
Give Your Bathroom a Theme
A pleasant atmosphere is often necessary for a child’s happiness and willingness to learn. Ask your child what kind of theme he or she would like, and then model the bathroom in that theme so that they’re more likely to see the bathroom — and perhaps even all the tasks they must perform in there — as a good place to be. The obvious choices are things like SpongeBob Squarepants, superheroes, or something similar. But you could also go for a different kind of theme. For example, one parent who was part of a “movie family” and was having trouble getting their son to brush turned the bathroom into a Jaws theme, complete with a Jaws poster, shark shower curtain, and beach-style toothbrush holder. While Jaws may be too mature for some kids, the point is to make the bathroom their own.
Post a Daily Flossing Chart
As hard as teaching a kid to brush can be, flossing is sometimes in a realm all its own because — let’s face it — flossing is boring and annoying. It’s often a chore for many adults, so just imagine what a kid thinks about it. You can fight this by creating a flossing reward chart. The chart doesn’t have to be too fancy; it just needs to get the job done. Even a printed calendar and a flashy title will do the trick. Then, pick up some stickers and each time they floss, give them one to stick on the chart. At the end of the week, if they’ve flossed each day, reward them with something small. And for a full month, they get something bigger!
Proper dental care is essential for every person, child and adult alike. The office of Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS understands this, which is why he and his staff are dedicated to giving you the very best treatment every step of the way. If you’d like to set up an appointment or ask any questions about dental health, contact his office right away!
You can’t lie to us. We know what you’ve been doing to your teeth — and it ain’t pretty!
We’re talking, of course, about the ways that you are damaging your teeth by using them for tasks other than chewing food. Teeth are quite strong, but they’re not invincible. If you keep up with the four bad habits listed below, you’ll only have yourself to blame. It’s time to resist these habits and prevent your teeth from becoming a casualty.
Bad Habit #1: Biting Your Nails
Nearly every child has been told at one time or another to stop chewing their nails. Unfortunately, this habit often follows people into adulthood. In addition to the possibility of making you sick, thanks to the fact that our hands can easily pick up bacteria from everything we touch, nail-biting can damage your teeth, causing them to move out of place. Plus, this nasty habit may lead to broken teeth or worn enamel.
Bad Habit #2: Using Your Teeth as a Tool
Okay. Let’s not mince words here. We have all done this. Whether you don’t have scissors handy to cut open a package, are struggling to twist off the cap of a bottle, or one of a hundred other similar tasks, we’ve all used our teeth as a tool. Our advice? Stop it! Using your teeth on plastic, metal, or some other substance, especially where you’re being forced to exert force, can be extremely damaging to your teeth. And the funny thing is, we don’t even have to explain why!
Bad Habit #3: Chewing Ice
Think of it like this — “water good, frozen water bad” — and you’ll never go wrong. While drinking water is a great way to wash bacteria off of your teeth and gums, crunching on that same water in the form of ice can be a death knell to your teeth’s health. If chewing is the source of your habit, switch to gum. If you like the cold factor of ice, just suck on it and don’t bite down. The pressure being put on your teeth while chewing ice simply isn’t worth the problems it can cause.
Bad Habit #4: Incorrect Use of Toothpicks
The use of toothpicks can be a great way to remove food from between your teeth, especially in a situation where pulling out a string of floss might not be appropriate. The problem is that many people will either use the toothpick too frequently, be overly aggressive with its use, or a combination of both. While brushing and flossing are preferable, the gentle and occasional use of toothpicks is okay.
Bad Habit #5: Drinking Soda
It seems that every time we do a list like this, soda is at the forefront. We’ve stuck it at the bottom of our list this time, but only to give more focus to other bad habits. The truth is, when you drink a soda, what you’re doing is bathing your teeth in acid for an extended period of time. People who work desk jobs and leisurely drink a soda for hours are doing their teeth a disservice. Break the soda cycle and switch to water, which will actually cleanse your mouth of bacteria.
Are you in need of emergency dental care or looking for a new dentist to take care of all your dental and oral needs? Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS has been named a Top Dentist by 5280 Magazine for the past eight years for a reason — because he knows his stuff and he truly cares about your teeth and gums. Contact his office today to make an appointment, and we’ll get you started on a future of excellent dental and oral health.
Well, we made it! I tried to get pictures of our Peru Dental trip up on Facebook, but the internet was too slow and/or I was too tired to make it work!
So, here goes- a short recap of our recent trip to Peru…
We left Thursday morning, bright and early. We had a 15-passenger van and a pick-up with all of our luggage take 11 of us from my home to the airport. We met two more there, to bring our dental team up to 13 people. We flew from Denver to Houston, then on to Lima, Peru, landing at approximately midnight. We waited in the Lima airport for the medical team coming from California, then took probably close to 100 bags through customs!
We checked the bags on to Trujillo, in northern Peru. Then, we had almost two hours to pretend to sleep in the airport. So, an hour’s flight got us to Trujillo, then the usual adventure of getting all those bags loaded onto a chartered bus up into the mountains to our final destination, Cascas. It was about a two-and-a-half-hour trip: far better than eight years ago when we first did the trip and it took four hours! They have really improved the roads over the years.
We had a police escort the last part of the way, and as we neared town, were greeted with several excited motorcycle escorts as well. Arriving in town, we were welcomed with fireworks and a marching band! Then, we had a welcome reception from the mayor and town and county officials, with speeches, music and children’s dance performances.
We dropped off our luggage in the hotel in town, and then took the bus down to the church where the clinic would be set up. Or I should say we took the bus most of the way… the driver had great difficulty getting that big bus down the narrow dirt road, and finally gave up a quarter-mile from the clinic. So, we walked down to lunch provided by the local church folks, and got a truck to ferry the clinic bags the rest of the way down.
After lunch, we set up the clinic, turning the big empty room into a 10-chair dental clinic! Amazing how much stuff it takes! Then, the mile hike up to town and our hotel… a light dinner and crashed.
Saturday morning was church, where I had the privilege of speaking! The rest of the day was spent celebrating our Sabbath, and getting steam up for the following week.
Sunday started our “normal” routine: hike down to the clinic, breakfast at 7am, a short worship talk and orientation, and then to work. We would work until about 6pm, with lunch staggered in as we could around noon. Then, hike back up to the town, or if we were lucky, catch a ride in the old Chevy Suburban we had available. So, that was the pattern for each day.
We would have someone triaging out front, to decide what each person’s primary concern was. Then, they head into the clinic for cleaning, extractions or restorations. We had three dentists and two hygienists on our team, as well as many others doing much needed support. We even had guest appearances by some Peruvian dentists who helped us out. One morning, our two hygienists went to the local school, and did over a hundred fluoride applications, and sent some of the kids who needed further treatment down to our clinic. So, over the week, we saw over 600 patients. Exhausting work, but rewarding.
I was asked to evaluate a person who had a dental condition severe enough that we could not treat it there. I was trying to explain that to him through a translator, who told me the patient said “I cannot understand a word that foreign doctor is saying, but I see love in his face!” If that sort of thing doesn’t touch you, you may need a heart transplant!
On Wednesday night, we had our supper on top of a hill about a mile behind the clinic. Many of the local folk joined us, and we had a big bonfire and a singing competition! Watching the sun slide behind the mountains and the lights of the town blink on is a sight not to forget! But far more wonderful is the warm welcoming spirit and boundless energy of the great people celebrating with us!
On Friday, we closed the clinic down around noon, and after lunch packed up the equipment we would take home. We left a lot of unused supplies for local dentists to use.
We spent Friday night near the Trujillo airport, in a little town called Huanchaco. It is right near the beach, so we could spend a little time resting up before our trip home. Saturday night, we flew back to Lima, then a little after midnight, on to Houston and back home, roughly 24 hours after leaving Huanchaco! A long day to finish a long week!
So once again, I thank all of the team, and all of our wonderful patients who contributed to making this trip a success! THANK YOU!!!