Teaching Toothbrushing

The sheer quantity of children in these communities astounds me everyday. Although, I shouldn’t really have expected the opposite as the parents generally spend their day working in the fields to meet the daily demands of life. Because of this, the toothbrushing station was always extremely full of kids who wanted to learn to brush their teeth and get treated with fluoride.

There were at least thirty kids running around a table in the kindergarten we’d set up our clinic in, looking for a toothbrush. Once served with toothpaste, they began to brush; when their mouths were full, they eagerly searched for the spit bucket to relieve their mouths of the toothpaste foam and began to brush again. The fluoride wasn’t the kids’ favorite, but when I looked into some of their mouths and saw the blackened and degrading teeth, it was evident to me how necessary flouride is for a child who might not have permanent access to toothbrushing supplies.

Aside from the kids and their toothbrushing, it was amazing how exciting a digital camera was to the young kids; after taking a photo the best part for them was viewing themselves on the small screen afterwards.

My second station was shadowing a doctor named Omar. He spoke very little English; fortunately for me, he was very determined in explaining each patient’s issues so that we could understand and appreciate what he was doing during the examination. I had one of the most memorable moments of my clinic experience when I was at Omar’s station. During a lull between patients, I attempted to ask Omar about his day-to-day work outside of clinics.  He responded by saying that his work and especially his interactions with his patients are incredibly beautiful. He did not simply remark upon medicine, but more so how he loved learning about his patients, their life, their family, their work; for him it is not just about money or science, but about the people he provides care for.

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