Guatemalan And Saint George Children With Toothaches


Before the advent of antibiotics and modern dentistry the toothache with its unrelenting pain was one of the most feared agonies known to man. Next to the common cold, it is still the second most common disease known to man. The access to dental care for the suffering is good here in St George. However, there are still many who can’t afford treatment. We have social programs such as state administered Medicaid and the Chips program for children. An adult with a “blue” Medicaid card is eligible for one X-ray and can have teeth pulled but not repaired. Although these programs pay the dentist very poorly I participate as a dentist provider from a humanitarian position. So I see pain and suffering every day at my dental office. Believe me, untreated dental pain still exists on a fairly large scale right here in St. George.

Now let me take you to the land of Guatemala which is south of Mexico. The majority of the Indigenous Myan people live in high mountain villages on collective farms. They live in small huts with walls of sticks and mud. They usually have tin roofs and dirt floors. The more fortunate ones have cinderblock walls. They make their little fires for cooking on the floor, breathing in the smoke and sometimes having their babies fall into the fires receiving horrible burns. They make corn tortillas and eat a lot of beans and rice. Due to lack of nutrition, the children are underdeveloped mentally and physically. Yet I find these people amazingly happy and full of faith in Jesus Christ. Somehow sugar has found them; but not dental hygiene.

The Saint George Rotary Club helps in our community but we also have a humanitarian focus in Guatemala. After a good water source is secured and a school for children built and waste sanitation obtained, our Club goes in to villages and makes or has made, efficient wood-burning stoves with cooktops and venting through the roof. We oversee somewhere around three hundred stoves being place each year through our fundraising efforts. While my colleagues are doing stoves, I bring my little head light, anesthetic, gauze, and surgical tools, and remove abscessed teeth all day as fast as I am able. No drill, no x-ray, no suction or dental chair. Just children and adults laid out on a table top in the school. These poor people have been suffering for months with toothache pain. Mothers bring me their children with multiple abscesses. Think of it, a mother unable to stop her crying child’s pain from a toothache. My Rotary Club is going again at the end of this May. If you want to help in any way Google St. George Rotary Club and through our 501C3 charitable trust, you can donate to this effort. Human suffering is everywhere. Doing a little to help feels good. Try it and you’ll see.