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Dental Care Arrives in Honduras
Dental technician Steve Hoofard joins a team of dentists on the trek to a remote mountain village.
Steve Hoofard, CDT, AAACD, and his wife joined a team of dentists, headed by John Spomer, DDS, to bring much-needed dental care to a remote village in Honduras during a week-long trip in November. This was just one of many trips for Dr. Spomer in his humanitarian efforts to help improve oral health for Hondurans. When he retired in 2008, he used the proceeds from the sale of his practice to create a fund to pay the salaries of two full-time Honduran dentists to serve the local population in the nation’s capital, Tegucigalpa.
Working with Medical Teams International and Honduran humanitarian agency Cadena de Amor, Dr. Spomer organizes four to five annual trips to deliver vital dental care to children and adults living in remote mountain villages.
On this trip, Hoofard had the rare opportunity to work alongside the dental team as they treated children in Marcala. About a 4-hour drive west of the capital, Marcala is a coffee-producing mountain village with a population of approximately 10,000. Until Dr. Spomer’s dental team arrived, it had been 4 years since the community had seen a dentist.
“The local organization goes out ahead of time to plan where the clinic will be set up and the logistics of getting the equipment to the clinic and organizing those to be treated,” Hoofard explains. “The dental team has to be fully self-sufficient, bringing with it all the power, fresh water, and equipment needed for the week.”
The team arrived with their equipment truck on a Saturday night and got to work immediately the next day, setting up a clinic in the local school using A-dec portable operatory field units. Their day started at 7 am on Monday, with 25 children eagerly waiting to be treated.
Before treatment, one of the two Honduran dentists gave the children lessons in dental hygiene as well as a toothbrush and toothpaste to brush their teeth. In the afternoon, the team treated 25 more children, not resting until the last child had received dental care. The dental team worked from sun up until sundown for 5 days straight, treating a total of 250 children from ages 6 to 16.
“Treatment was limited to the worst quadrant in the children’s mouths,” says Hoofard, whose role was to keep the instruments sterilized and the compressors running. Most treatment was focused on extractions, filling decayed teeth, applying sealants, and for older children, direct bonding to give them a more pleasing smile. “You have no idea how fortunate we are in this country unless you have had an experience like this,” he says.