The Dental program is the cornerstone of most Mano con Mano short term mission trips.
Working in collaboration with dental volunteers from other missionary outreach programs, Mano con Mano has been able to provide dental care for over 1000 patients in Mexico since 1995. Dental teams are usually made up of one or more U.S. Dentists, one or two hygienists, experienced assistants and lay volunteers. Working in conjunction with Mexican dental professionals, patients are examined and triaged based on need. First priority goes to patients with infections or severe pain. Dental teams attempt to save teeth via prevention, education and restorative dentistry whenever possible. Extractions remain a large part of the work due to the severe lack of affordable dental care for much of the world.
A single tooth filling can cost up to a month's wages for a Mexican worker. Most people simply neglect their dental health until the pain is so severe that they require an extraction. Dental teams strive to educate patients in proper nutrition, dental hygiene and preventative care as well as provide dental continuing education to Latin dentists. Most dental team participants find the experience clinically challenging and extremely rewarding. Thus, team members often make return trips and recruit their colleagues on future teams.Mano con Mano dental teams must bring portable dental units that include suction, water supply and high speed hand piece power supplies. Dental professionals use their own instruments along with those that are made available by partner organizations. Disposable supplies, amalgam, composite, anesthetic and medications are purchased with donated funds. Dental team members each pay their own team fees which cover transportation, housing and in-country ministry expenses. Scholarships are sometimes available for assistants, hygienists and dental students. The Dental program is one of the most expensive aspects of Mano con Mano's work in Latin America. Donations of supplies, anesthesia, equipment and monetary donations help us to provide care for greater numbers of patients. If you have contacts with dental supply companies that would like to help in this work, please refer them to our website.
A Dental Team Manual is available for use by other dental ministry teams and can be reprinted for your use. If you would like more information, or are interested in joining a dental ministry team, please contact us.