More than one hundred San Pedro children were given the wonderful opportunity to have a healthier smile this past week during a free dental hygiene clinic conducted by a team of dentists, dental hygienists, and assistants at the San Pedro Polyclinic II. The medical team from Minnesota, U.S.A., led by Dr. Mark Johnson, provided dental services to schoolchildren from the New Horizons Seventh Day Adventist School last week Wednesday, with many more treated from other area schools this week.
The dental services were the first provided at the Polyclinic’s new Dental Clinic. Last November, the clinic received a donation from Dr. Jeffrey Davis and the Rotary Club of Virginia, U.S.A., which comprised of several essential pieces of dental equipment. The medical equipment was collected in the U.S., shipped, designed, and installed at the Polyclinic by Doug Sperling and Doug Hoverland, with the assistance of Dr. Mark Johnson and his gifted wife and assistant, Joan, an experienced dental hygienist. Mark and Joan own a house on the island, and for the past six years, Dr. Johnson and Joan have been organizing and coordinating efforts to have a fully-equipped dental clinic so that volunteer dentists can come to the San Pedro to provide effective and efficient services for the community. Fortunately for the community, their noble dream has finally come true, and the first dental services have started to be offered at the Polyclinic.
“Our goal for this first dental clinic is twofold,” Joan Johnson told Ambergris Today. “First, we want to organize the clinic so that volunteer dentists are able to be effective and efficient in their services provided for the community, and second, we want to change the attitude of people who visit the dentist, especially the children. It is very important for them to undergo training in proper dental hygiene, so that’s basically what we hope to accomplish these four days.”
Around 40 children from New Horizon’s Infant I & II were seen by the dental team at the Polyclinc last Wednesday morning and given lessons in proper brushing of their teeth, flossing, fluoride care, and visual counting of their teeth. After each child was taken care of, a small gift package containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, and toy prize was handed over, much to their joy.
“The children that were seen by the dentists were separated into two groups- needs work and don’t,” said Joan. “Those that need work were given a second appointment so that they could be provided services, such as cavity work and the pulling of teeth.”
The free dental services were provided for a total of four days, consisting of two days last week and two days this week. Joining Dr. Mark Johnson and Joan at the clinic in provision of the beneficial services was one more experienced dentist and Dr. Johnson’s staff members from his dental clinic in Annandale, Minnesota, U.S.A. Dr. Dave Wohlrabe (who has donated much funds, time and effort to the clinic and is a member of the board for the Polyclinic), along with his wife and assistant, Nancy; Office Manager Barbara McNellis, and Dental Assistants Holly Griffin and Lori Thompson all consisted of the team. Also helping this dynamic team with their efforts were Jackie Gonzalez, who assisted with the transportation of the schoolchildren to the clinic, and Eleonor Rosalez, who helped with getting authorization from the children’s parents so that they could be provided with dental services. Ramon’s Village Resort and Conch Shell Hotel donated the rooms for the dental team to use during their stay on the island, and Cholo’s Golf Car Rentals donated the golf cars for them to use for their transportation.
Many more dental teams from the U.S. are expected to visit the island to offer their services at the Polyclinic, as for the past six years, Dr. Johnson has kept a list of doctors who are interested in assisting with the wonderful program. “I want to say thanks to the good people who cleaned my teeth today,” said a smiling Daniel Guerrero from the 7th Day Adventist School, echoing the sentiments of his fellow students. “I appreciate it very much and will not forget their help for my school.”