Have You Ever Been to a Dentist?

If you ask this question to someone in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, or most other parts of the so-called “developed world,” the answer almost certainly would be yes. I have had well over 100 dental visits–perhaps twice that amount. Almost every child in the U.S. who is five years or older has been to a dentist, and some adults continue to do so beyond their 90th birthday.

However, if you live in a developing country, especially in an area that is remote and extremely impoverished, the answer probably would be no. About half of the world’s population have never had dental care and must deal with the pain of rotten teeth and gums–and often worse. According to World Dental Relief (www.worlddentalrelief.com), dental disease is the most rampant disease in the world, affecting 95% of the population.

While at the Global Missions Health Conference in Louisville a few years ago, I met Rev. Kingspride Hammond. He serves in the northern part of Ghana where there are about two million people, but there was only one government dentist (and very few other ones). Fortunately, an American dentist came and taught some very basic skills to lay people — especially how to pull teeth more effectively and with less pain. Everyone was happy, and now Rev. Hammond’s activities have greatly expanded. See www.alabasterproject.org

Last summer my own dentist donated two used dental chairs and professional lights to World Medical Relief (www.worldmedicalrelief.org) so they could be sent to Kenya. I am happy to have helped make that connection.

The next time your teeth or gums hurt, think about how most of the world lives and feels.

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