Antigua, Guatemala and Zacapa, Guatemala
Again, with the help and generosity of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Naperville, Illinois, we were provided with the funds for fluoride varnish, toothpaste, and toothbrushes that were given to almost 1,000 children and adults in the surrounding communities of Zacapa, Guatemala.
The students of Good Shepherd helped us to educate the children of Guatemala on oral hygiene instruction. There were many different settings where we saw children and adults including the villages of Pueblo Modelo and La Linea, the Dump (literally a dumping site for the surrounding communities trash), Maria’s Daycare, the Hearts in Motion Nutrition Center, and the Senior Center.
Assessing caries risk in the children of the surrounding areas allows us to determine the need for fluoride varnish. Already over the past few years, we have seen a significant decrease in caries in these areas where the fluoride varnish is being applied. With continued education and aid, we hope to help the children of Zacapa lessen their chances of childhood caries.
As clinicians, we were informed by the children that many of them drink soda rather than water, due to the lack of availability of clean water in their communities. Soda is usually less expensive than bottled water, so families tend to give their children the cheaper of the the two choices of beverages. Just as we educate in the United States about soda consumption, it has become part of our oral hygiene instruction to let the children know the effects of soda consumption on their teeth.
Another clinical aspect of this trip was discussing medical histories with the adults. There were quite a few adults who had histories of diabetes, and also had visible periodontal disease. With the help of translators, we were able to stress the importance of home care for these individuals, along with the implications of their disease with their oral health. It was so rewarding being able to share our knowledge with these individuals, in hopes that we could aid in their overall health.