Clinicians helping to keep the world free from dental pain

As well as having Cancer Research UK as our annual charity of the year, we work very closely with clinical charity Bridge2Aid, who work to strengthen local healthcare systems – specifically by training local healthcare workers in the provision of emergency dental treatment in some of the poorest communities in the world.

One of the fantastic things mydentist does as part of its partnership is sponsor and fully fund two of our clinicians every year to travel to Tanzania and provide vital emergency dental training to clinical officers. Dentist’s Laura-Anna Johnston from our Dundee Fintry practice and Yasmin Mehta from our Leicester practice embarked on this life changing trip and we followed their incredible journey of treating almost 550 patients in the first week.

Laura-Anne, Yasmin and the other volunteers from practices across the UK landed in Dar, Tanzania, began their training of the clinical officers who work in the rural health centres. They had just two weeks to learn the basics of emergency dental skills from our clinicians, receiving the initial theory training as they started their journey to being competent to work on their own and extract teeth safely.

The first day was particularly intensive for the Clinical Officers as they are introduced to the training programme and the world of dental terminology. The programme is extremely rigorous, and although the Clinical Officers have a great deal of general medical knowledge already, each of them is on a steep learning curve!

Over the course of the week, they studied the anatomy of a tooth and the structure of individual teeth, they were introduced to health and disease in the oral cavity, taught to recognise when teeth need to be treated and shown the consequences of tooth removal. They also learnt the basics of external and intra-oral examination, and the theory behind extracting teeth – the reasons, indications and contra-indications and the instruments they will be using.

The Clinical Officers were taught about medical problems relating to dentistry such as diabetes, anaemia, clotting disorders and how to deal with medical emergencies such as faints and collapsed patients. This was when Laura-Anne, Yasmin and the other volunteers took a step back from their hands-on role and the Clinical Officers started to provide complete patient care, taking the patient from start to finish with verbal assistance only.

Already, the Clinical Officers were demonstrating some really strong clinical skills, they had been extracting teeth whilst being closely observed and monitored by the training dentists, with verbal direction where needed.  It is just as important to learn how to recognise when an extraction is beyond their clinical ability and needs to be referred to the District Dental Officer.

The last few days of training consolidated what the Clinical Officers had already learnt, reiterating safe practice and reinforcing the scope of their skills. The Clinical Officers got ready for their final written exam (although their mentors would continue to make assessments) and the final overall assessment as to whether the Clinical Officers completed their training successfully.

The skills that Bridge2Aid and the clinicians passed on during the training means that basic dental provision will now be available in these areas for the long-term future.

mydentist are proud to support such a wonderful organisation, and since 2015 have raised over £40,000. In 2017 alone, we were able to train 41 rural health workers, treat over 4,500 patients and provide 400,000 people in Tanzania with access to safe and sustainable dental treatment.

If you would like to find out more about working for mydentist and being able to support this great charity, please contact our Resourcing team on 01204 799699 or to view our current vacancies please click here