At quip, we’re always working to make oral care accessible to everyone — and this includes partnering with our uniquely engaged online dental professional community to make tangible change in the real world. This week, we sponsored quip professional and dental student Clement Kairouz’s service trip to an underserved community in Nicaragua. In his own words, here’s what he learned and how his trip combined his cultural experience as an immigrant and altruistic mission as a dental professional.
Dentistry, in my opinion, is a vocational calling. It superlatively complements one’s interest in medicine, engineering, and art as it symbiotically incorporates this trinity with the fundamental emphasis on patient care and community service. As a Lebanese immigrant raised between Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and now living in New York City for the past 10 years, I consider myself a hybrid of many rich cultures. Cultivating a holistic perspective towards the world through my travels, outreaches and education, I realized the fundamental significance of preventative dental care compared to reactive care, and the vital requisite of availability, accessibility and patient education; adding another dimension to my professional focus in public health when addressing global dental health disparities and the needs of underserved populations.
About the program
As a third year dental student at NYU College of Dentistry, I was selected to participate in the Global Outreach Program for a unique service-learning experience alongside faculty, residents, and other dental students to provide dental services, treatments and education in Granada, Nicaragua. Our week long journey began with portable dental units in one hand, and luggage filled with dental materials and equipment in the other. Upon arrival, we set up our clinic in the middle of the town with four main stations on the floor– restorative, endodontic, oral surgery and pediatric.
On the ground
This underserved community filled with compassionate and welcoming people, colorful Spanish architecture and delicious Latin cuisine was constrained between its limited resources, excessive sugar intake paralleled with poor oral care, leading the community members of this beautiful town to frequently suffer from multiple decayed teeth. This usually meant extractions as the main route of treatment.
As this scenario repeated itself in various forms through the hundreds of patients we saw and treated, it emphasized the common denominator of poor dental hygiene and care among underserved populations and the critical need for sustainable dental services, education and accessibility.
This experience transcended just expanding my clinical skills, speed, and competence, but also furthered my knowledge and perceptions on public health issues, challenging me to rethink my role as a future dentist and my social responsibility. This outreach offered back more than patient gratitude; it allowed me to reach deep within myself to realize and identify duty, competence and altruism – qualities crucial to deliver holistic empathetic care. It also taught me to never travel without bug spray and sunscreen. Seriously, never!