The Gift of Dental Health: Mission Trips Around the Globe
VP Dental is among the thousands of dental practices in the United States that believe that dental health care should be accessible to each and every person on Earth. However, in many countries, there is a lack of accessible dental health care, dental hygiene products, and proper dental hygiene education. Dr. Valerie Preston has participated in multiple mission trips to countries from Mexico to Tanzania to provide dental services and education free of charge to those in need.
Dr. Preston’s Mission Trips
Over the past 18 years, Dr. Preston has traveled on 5 mission trips to provide dental health care overseas. The journey began in the 1990’s during Dr. Preston’s dental school days. Her two mission trips to the Dominican Republic proved life-changing, providing a major impact on those served, and inspired Dr. Preston to continue providing care for those in need. The next trip took her to Mexico in the year 2000. In 2015, Dr. Preston went to Iraq where she offered assistance to the Kurdish people and Syrian refugees. A few months ago, Dr. Preston and her son traveled to the East African country of Tanzania, where her team provided cosmetic, restorative, and preventative dentistry services.
Morogoro, Tanzania 2018
Dr. Preston has always had a passion to This past August, Dr. Preston visited Africa for the first time. Global Health Outreach (GHO), a ministry of the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA), supplied Dr. Preston’s mission team with the tools needed to provide dental services for the people of Morogoro, Tanzania. A temporary dental clinic for the mission team was set up at Bethel Revival Temple, a local church led by Pastor Barnabas. The 12-person team was comprised of a hygienist, nurse, sterilization technician, 2 logistics specialists, and 7 dentists. Over the course of trip, the team was able to provide much needed dental care to hundreds of people.
Unfortunately, there is an extreme lack of quality dental care in Morogoro and its surrounding areas. There are a few dentists scattered throughout the area, but not one visited the clinic. Local dentists have earned a negative reputation throughout the area. Many patients experienced more dental issues after receiving treatment from one of the local dentists, forcing them to return for further service.
The patients visiting the dental clinic were seen over the course of 7.5 working days. During this time, 800 patients received service. The two most common issues observed by the dentists were broken down teeth and fluorosis, a condition caused by excessive exposure to fluoride. Patients received a variety of services at the clinic, including free cleanings, fillings, and extractions. Many patients also received cosmetic dental services from Dr. Preston who specializes in cosmetic dentistry. Dozens of people received dental makeovers on their front two teeth and left with big, confident smiles.
Importance of Mission Trips that Provide Dental Health Care
In countries like Tanzania, access to sufficient dental health care and education are limited. Many of the patients seen at the clinic had misconceptions about general dental health, including how cavities are formed and how to properly prevent them. Some believed that cavities were caused by worms eating holes through the teeth.
Poor dental health is often a leading cause of heart disease, which is why providing quality dental health care and education to countries like Tanzania is imperative.
Mission trips are beneficial to the patients providing much needed dental health care and education. Those providing the actual services can benefit as well. Not only can the dental health care providers make a major, positive impact to the health of those served, they can also interact with people from a different culture and learn about their customs and alternate ways of living.
Dr. Preston plans to return to Tanzania in August of 2019 with an even larger team of 21. This time, she will be joined by OBGYN providers, allowing the team to expand the breadth of services to further serve the community.
Serving the North Raleigh area for 18 years, VP Dental is dedicated to treating each patient as an individual and focuses on total body health. The team stays current using the very latest in dental technology, wellness practices, and concierge dental care practices. Our goal is to create relationships that make people look and feel their best.