I'm writing this blog from bed and savouring the feeling of not having to get up too early!
Yesterday was our last day of dentistry in Vanuatu. We spent it visiting a village in the north of Efate, Paunangisu. It was such a beautiful location for our last day and really felt like the epitome of Vanuatu. The whole community came together, chickens roamed around and on our lunch break we saw some pristine untouched beaches, with scatterings of islands on the horizon. We had the dental van and a makeshift dental chair (similar to a lay down physio bed) set up for treatment whilst we rotated between screening the children of the village. Not many children could have treatment yesterday but if they needed it they will make an appointment at the PCV clinic in Port Vila, possibly with Bob or the dental therapist visiting in July. The children in Paunangisu did have decay but it seemed less than in Port Vila, perhaps this is because they have a more natural diet in the village of things they can grow, rather than a more Western processed diet.
We had tallied the totals on Thursday night and realised if we did a further 46 extractions that would take our total to 500! At the start of week 1 we joked out target was 500 and suddenly this was a reality. We did it! 508 teeth extracted in two weeks. Don't worry - I know how sick this sounds and it reinforces the stereotypical dentist for a patient with dental anxiety but that's 508 areas of people's mouths that will no longer be in pain or subject to infection. The extractions have taken their toll on my body though, last night it was a struggle to lift my arms straight up. Yesterday morning after my first extraction my shoulder muscles felt as though they wouldn't survive the day. I'm looking forward to some slow yoga when I'm back to realign everything. After screening was complete in the afternoon I even took a few teeth up in a fairly upright camping chair (in a separate room). Visibility in less than ideal lighting (a camping headlamp) and patient positioning had me wondering what I'd gotten myself into but somehow, like everything else in the last two weeks, I coped. I'm expecting Monday back at work in private practice feels like a breeze - with great lighting, sharp and functioning instruments (and my instruments of choice no less) and no qualms of infection control.
Our statistics for the total two weeks of 10 working days of dentistry are:
- we saw 290 adults (102 male, 178 female)
- we saw 441 children (203 boys, 238 girls)
- screened 502 patients
- completed 422 fluoride treatments
- 508 extractions
- 159 restorations
- 26 scale and cleans
- 8 fissure sealants
- 3 endodontic instrumentations (first stage of root canal)
- 8 fissure sealants
- 1 pulpotomy
With love and fatigue from Vanuatu