A group of teenage boys were together on the shore looking on curiously as the dental team triaged patients in Emo village.
“Does anyone have pain in their teeth?” asked oral health therapist, Dinah Haswell.
The boys all pointed to 14 year-old Eric. Dinah walked over to Eric and asked him, “Where is your pain, can you point with your finger?”
Eric responded, “Everywhere.”
Eric opened his mouth, and immediately Dinah knew he was speaking the truth. She recognised his condition as Amelogenesis Imperfecta, a genetic condition that affects the enamel of the teeth as they form. The condition takes many forms and varies in severity, but Eric’s case was the worst that Dinah had seen in her 33 years of dentistry. Eric had little to no enamel on any of his teeth – leaving nerve endings exposed. Brushing, eating, even breathing through his mouth would likely be very painful.
Dinah shared with Eric and his father that her team could help with his pain. A few moments later, Eric was in YWAM’s small boat making his way to the MV YWAM PNG’s onboard dental clinic. It would be his very first visit to the dentist.
Once Eric arrived, he was greeted by YWAM Medical Ships’ dentist, Dr John Phillips, and dental assistant, Patricia Voss. Eric opened his mouth wide, and John and Patricia got straight to work.
John and Patricia removed the diseased tooth structure and covered Eric’s molars and premolars with GC Fuji VII-EP – glass ionomer cement that releases fluoride to harden adjacent tooth structure, reduce sensitivity, and lessen his susceptibility to decay and tooth wear.
Eric’s top six front teeth were restored with composite resin; a stronger, harder material that would provide him with a more normal appearance when he smiles.
After just two hours, 22 of Eric’s teeth had been restored. The result left Eric with a restored smile and far less pain.
“I can’t imagine the pain that Eric was in. The restoration of his teeth should have a profound impact on his quality of life. I’m so glad his friends dobbed him in for a trip the dentist!” says Dinah.
The MV YWAM PNG has provided dental treatment to 1,643 patients throughout Papua New Guinea since February.
Support YWAM Medical Ships dental program by giving a tax deductible donation, just $25 can provide a person with dental treatment. Donate online at www.ywamships.org.au/paymentz/