Hello from rural Armenia!
It has been an extremely busy few days in the dental clinic. Dental caries is an epidemic in Armenia because there are not many dentists serving the rural areas and dental care is very expensive. They do not have preventative care (regular cleanings, fluoride in water and sealants for kids).
It is common to see people with multiple missing or rotted teeth and this affects their speech, nutrition, and self-esteem. I have seen children from ages 4-16 for pain, infection, cavities and root canals. Many are scared at the start of the appointment but at the end happily say they didn’t feel a thing and wouldn’t be scared to return.
The dentists here are unfortunately very experienced in doing extractions so my goal is to save whatever I can save, leaving the extractions for the local dentists to address once we leave.
The gratitude and happiness of these children once they are out of pain is so rewarding that it is impossible to fully describe. This is what keeps me coming back each year (this is my 4th year volunteering in Armenia). If you take dental healthcare as a whole, it is overwhelming but if you take it step by step and use the opportunity to educate parents, children, and the staff it is more manageable. I am grateful to AAHPO and COAF for allowing us this opportunity and invite anyone who’s interested in joining our medical mission in the future to reach out!