Seven students from Oregon Tech's dental hygiene program traveled to Honduras this October to provide dental care to local children
Oregon Tech’s Dental Hygiene team consisting of Hannah Lee, Israel Rivas, Carly Bull, Nichole McGuigan, Ashton Britton, Elizabeth Gordon, Jennifer Sierra-Barrera, and Kaitlyn Emard
Seven Oregon Tech students and one faculty member traveled to Puerto Cortés, Honduras in October of this year to provide ten days of dental care to children within the community age 5-14. The trip is part of the International Externship Program
, which provided students the opportunity to travel outside the United States on a dental care mission. While the primary goal of the trip is to provide dental care to those in need, students are also exposed to a new culture, which offers learning opportunities that can benefit future patient interactions in their career and beyond.
Students Hannah Lee, Israel Rivas, Carly Bull, Nichole McGuigan, Ashton Britton, Jennifer Sierra-Barrera, and Kaitlyn Emard traveled with their professor, Elizabeth Gordon, with the mission of providing dental care for the local children, to experience a different culture, and to improve their clinical skills. The Escuela Marco Aurelio Soto elementary school that the clinic was held at is within a large coastal city of a population nearing 200,000. With a timeline of 8-12 hour work days, Oregon Tech students were able to treat children in segments of 25 in the morning and 25 in the afternoon, totaling more than 400 children. The trip also consisted of two dentists from the capital city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras to lead major dental work while the students assisted in restorations and extractions, performed prophylaxes (dental cleanings) and placed preventative sealants. In addition to dental care, students helped with education segments and reinforced how to brush teeth, how many times to brush, and how to floss.
In an area where water must be purchased, many of the students who traveled noted that they saw oral conditions that they wouldn’t expect to see in the United States and for many children this time was their only option for dental care. Not only did the students adapt to situations they normally wouldn’t experience, but they also had to adjust to the environment when a power outage caused them to continue working by headlamps, with no suction tools or water. They were able to rely on their groundwork skills to do cleanings and even help the dentists with extractions all by hand instruments.
“My trip to Honduras was life changing, I grew a passion for not only dental hygiene but helping those in need,” said Carly Bull of Aumsville, Oregon. “I am interested now in traveling to help other poverty areas and third world countries. The relationships made are for a lifetime. I am just so thankful for the trip.”
The trip itself provided more than $211,000 in care through services provided such as fluoride, education, prophylaxis, sealants, pulpotomy, extractions, amalgam, and composite restorations. The trip was funded through students and the International Externship Program at Oregon Tech. Medical Teams International organized the trip based on areas of need, but students were required to fundraise on their own, including each individual’s $2,700 travel fees and various other costs. The team brought their own dental equipment, even dental chairs for the children and conducted mailings for donations, started GoFundMe sites, and held a dinner and silent auction.