Because access to dental care is scarce in Africa, many have never even seen a dentist and live with conditions that are painful and sometimes life threatening. With a dental team of over 20 qualified health care professionals, Mercy Ships partners with local health departments to set up an off-site location near the ship. There, patients can come daily to receive free dental care and treatment throughout the 10-month long campaign.
Robbie Lerma serves as the dental team supervisor and has been with Mercy Ships for over twenty-six years! During her time on board she has been to many countries and understands the immense need for dental care in Benin.
“I’ve been in several countries, and to me, West African countries, have some of the worst teeth that I’ve seen. They have a larger number of teeth we have to remove from each patient because they’re so decayed. Even small children have a lot of their baby teeth decayed down to the gum line.”
Sometimes, a simple problem that would have been treated early in a country with adequate dental resources will grow into a life-threatening, surgery-requiring condition.
This is why good oral care makes a difference when it comes to overall health and well-being. As we begin our time in Benin, our dental team is up for the challenge of creating improved dental health through treatment and education in a country that really needs it.