Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Thank you, Tika and Shelley!

Thank you to Tika and Shelley. Your support, expertise, and overall company was mucho appreciated! Our days at the clinic and at the schools could not have gone as smoothly as it did without your help and support. Thank you for being open to the possibilities, for being flexible to the rhythm of each day, for being strong enough to tackle the challenges, and for the laughter and lessons shared.

On the way to the airport.
During the first three weeks in San Pancho we provided dental hygiene services and oral health education for both kindergarten and primary schools in addition to implementing weekend clinics where members from the community were seen. The children here welcomed us warmly and were very receptive to our presence and services. It was a rewarding experience in many ways for me as I was able to see the students create such a positive experience in just minutes of interaction with the children as well as provide education and services that are meaningful and necessary.  Also, many of the children were left inspired, stating that they would like to be “dentista’s” when they are older and left more informed about oral health care.

The two weekend clinics were exciting for me as I recognized the challenges ahead and the difficult work the students were engaging in.  I quickly became aware of existing disparities in access to care juxtaposed with the value placed on oral health services. I began to understand how much the care we provided was appreciated and valued by the people of San Pancho who offered gratitude for our services with such humility and grace.
I am also left feeling very proud of the good work the students have done and the teamwork and camaraderie that comes with this course.  It is hard work and they have risen to the occasion with positivity, commitment and enthusiasm.  I know they have left with a sense of fulfillment and pride in the lives they have touched and affected and I feel truly blessed to be a part of this team.

This field school is a success because of the dedication to provide the best oral health care services possible, in an environment devoid of resources. I am inspired daily by the commitment of the instructor of this course, Ada Barker, and her vision to make a difference in a community so Tika Brown

Organizing at the beginning of the day.
What an experience!  I spent 12 days in the little town of San Pancho and I found at the end of each day I reflected about the same facts.  It is important in life to be present, to be thankful for what you have  and to realize it does not take a lot to make a difference in someone else’s life. Laughter and tears can go hand and in hand and communication can be clear with simply a smile. The experiences in the different community settings was purely amazing.   Camosun College should be proud of the students & faculty of the 2016 field school, it made me realize that a profession in the health field is so rewarding on so many levels. The team demonstrated, humility, professionalism, skills and knowledge that were so appreciated by the locals, I was proud to be  part of this team.  I see an interdisciplinary future for Camosun dental programs and look forward to discussing and planning the opportunity to include the CDA program in 2017.  Well done ladies! Shelley Melissa

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Musings from Paige and Mackenzie

The six clinic days at Entreamigos have been a challenging, but an eye opening experience. During this time we gained knowledge on how to work in an unfamiliar environment and learnt how to adapt quickly to our new surroundings. We were confronted by the consistent flow of difficult clients, which is much different compared to what we have encountered back home along with the challenging working conditions such as the heat and the individual dental unit set up. This was a challenge because we found it extremely exhausting to find ways for our bodies to work efficiently in this new setting without compromising our ergonomics, but many of us did. We also discovered that it takes a lot of heart and determination to build and run a pop-up clinic. We continued to discover creative uses of materials to put together a dental clinic; this included beach chairs for client chairs, child play chairs for operating chairs and a plastic tote as our working table. We quickly recognized how important it is to understand and demonstrate the basic fundamentals of dental hygiene practice. Overall, we appreciated how grateful the clients were and how well our dental hygiene team worked together. We are extremely appreciative of this experience we have a been given and are forever changed from the clinic days we experienced here in San Pancho.

A visit with Erik Saracho of Alianza Jaguar, A.C. and Group Dinner!

Thank you, Erik for your very interesting presentation about the conservation efforts of this organization. There are only about 4000 jaguars in Mexico and 200 are found in the Nayarit area. The jaguars are known as water keepers and have a special role to play in the balance of the ecosystem. Note that the name jaguar has "agua" within it. Water is life and the association's objective is to not only protect the remaining species in the area, but to educate the public, including hunters about this beautiful animal. If you want to find out more about this association, go to 

Last Wednesday, one graduate and two of the faculty members returned to Victoria to resume work commitments. We took the opportunity to gather together to celebrate their efforts and participation in another successful field school. We met, along with our host, Glades Perreras, interpreters, presenters, and anyone who was involved in the Proyecto Sonrisa (Smile Project).

Ceviche and guacamole was a popular item on the menu and it was had by all.

Allison and Mackenzie speaking about their experience and thanking the group! Well done!

A walk home is not the same, unless we stopped at the ice cream shop. Lemon Pie is a new favourite!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Our last day at the Primaria School.

The visits to the schools are always a highlight. The children are so attentive and so wanting to learn. They also remember much of the presentation from year to year as they are able to answer the presenters' questions on oral health. Over the last 9 years, we have noticed a discernable decrease in caries rate, but sadly, although we are not able to confirm the data, there appears to be an increase in the number of children with dental caries this year. Can it be attributed to the gap in field school visit in 2014? It is difficult to say but we know that increased awareness and motivation goes hand in hand.  Important to note also that there is no water fluoridation in San Pancho. We make great effort in instilling the value of oral health to caregivers here so they may continue to pass it on when we leave.

Our method in screening for decay parallels what public dental hygienists do in BC, Canada. We used tongue depressors to examine the mouth and good light to determine obvious cases of enamel breakdown. We note only the number of children who exhibit these lesions and not the number of teeth, albeit in one classroom, Tika noted 92 teeth with carious lesions. Very disheartening but left us feeling even more determined to do what we have to do to change those numbers. Proper nutrition and home care is discussed and demonstrated. After each screening, students were given fluoride application.

Here are our statistics.
Kindergarten:  46 children - 25 exhibited carious lesions - 54%
Primaria School:  204 children - 136 exhibited carious lesions - 66%

Musings from Jess and Kyla

Over the past two weekends in San Pancho we have completed six full days of clinic providing dental hygiene care to over one hundred clients. This has been a life-changing experience with many rewards and challenges. The clients expressed copious amounts of gratitude for the services we provided which was the most rewarding aspect of our clinical experience.

We have a deeper appreciation for the comforts we have at home. In Canada we tend to take for granted the access to care and armamentarium available to us. Here in Mexico our makeshift clinic was challenging to work in. Our operatory posed ergonomical and physical challenges. Furthermore, many of our clients were more difficult classifications than we have seen at home, and we were given a much shorter timeframe to complete them. We were also unable to provide local anesthetic, yet our clients demonstrated impressive ability to tolerate discomfort, always leaving grateful and smiling. This motivated us to push through the difficult times, even when we felt like giving up.

Due to the language barrier, we learned that nonverbals are crucial, but the translators assisted us in delivering the most important messages to our clients. Although removing the deposits was important to short-term oral health, the education provided was paramount for providing them with the skills to maintain long-term health for themselves and their loved ones. 

Overall, we discovered how much we love dental hygiene. Although it can be very challenging, it is a rewarding profession that provides life-long learning opportunities. Throughout our careers we will experience continuous challenges, but learning to accept our abilities and taking the time to self-reflect will allow us to grow personally and professionally. We are grateful that we were given the opportunity to provide dental hygiene care for those who would otherwise not have access. We feel a sense of fulfilment knowing that we made a difference in their lives.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Musings from Brett and Allison

Our clinical experience at Entre Amigos has been both challenging and rewarding.  Although our makeshift dental clinic was functional, the beach chairs, children’s chairs, and lack of dental light made the practice challenging. We are used to a comfortable, air conditioned setting where ergonomics are easily achieved. We were required to adapt to a new setting and often had to compromise our body positions. After “clinic boot camp” we came home to our hotel feeling exhausted and sore. This was all made worthwhile by the genuine appreciation shown by our clients. Clients with large amounts of tenacious deposit and deep periodontal pockets eagerly sat through long appointments without the use of local anesthesia. At home, we would not hesitate to provide local anesthesia to these types of "difficult"  clients, however here in San Pancho without a dentist present,  this is not an option. Clients were incredibly thankful and gracious; something we don’t always experience in Canada.

We learned that fundamentals such as rolling, and sharpening instruments throughout the debridement process are key to success especially when working on difficult clients in a short time frame. We were reminded of the importance of team work especially in a new and challenging setting. We were able to rely on each other while working in partners as well as the instructors and certified dental assistant faculty to achieve best results for each client. We were also reminded of the need to listen to our bodies by allowing time for breaks, drinking water, and stretching, so as not to exhaust ourselves.

Sadly our clinical experience in San Pancho has come to an end, but the skills we learned we will take forward into our clinical practice at home. We are so appreciative of the work put in by both Ada and her sister, Glades, as well as the community in San Pancho for providing such a warm welcome.