D4 Sara Safdari-Sadaloo works on a young patient in a Kenya school while a row of boys wait in the background for their turn.
Ann Arbor, Mich., Aug. 31, 2016 -– Seven D-4 students who participated in the School of Dentistry’s Kenya Summer Program captured special moments from their trip to Meru, Kenya, on video and compiled a collection of photos highlighting some of their clinical treatment and oral health education efforts with school children there.
Supervised by Drs. Carlos González-Cabezas and Robert Eber, the students treated about 2,200 children from ages 6 to 18 during their stay in and around Meru, a village five miles north of the equator and about 150 miles from Nairobi. They also traveled two hours to provide treatment at Leeta Primary School, located in a mountain village. The dental students visited schools and set up temporary clinics, providing mostly preventive treatment, such as the application of fluoride and Silver Diamine Fluoride, a relatively new antimicrobial liquid that is brushed on cavities to stop tooth decay without the need for drilling.
González-Cabezas said the focus of the students’ work was preventive treatment because the temporary clinics do not have the necessary tools and equipment to perform more complex treatments. Children with the most serious problems were referred to local hospitals, which is where most dental treatment takes place in Kenya. González-Cabezas said the majority of the children examined during the trip have cavities or other serious oral health issues, which seems to be on the increase, perhaps because of increasing access to sugar in candy or other food and drink.
The dental students conducted education sessions where they demonstrated proper brushing techniques and provided toothbrushes and toothpaste. They also visited local hospitals to learn more about how dentistry is practiced in Kenya.
“Participating in a different culture, which is so different than the U.S., is probably the most important value that will stay with them forever,” González-Cabezas said of the U-M students. “The second thing is they are seeing the disease in a different presentation than they will see it here in a lecture or clinic at the dental school. While there are serious oral health issues with children in this country, it is on a smaller scale than in Kenya, where cavities and other serious problems affect the vast majority of children. So they will see cases there they won’t see here. I always like to say that our students may learn in two weeks what they learn at the dental school in three months.”
The students who traveled to Kenya are Patrick Chuang, Teddy Eusebio, Leen Khatib, Jessica Kleinschmit, David Li, Matthew Nye and Sara Safdari-Sadaloo,
The 2016 video is available on the School of Dentistry YouTube Channel. Read about the trip in the students' words on our student blog, Wolverine Bytes at: https://wolverinebytes.org/2016/09/08/stories-from-kenya/