I had always been interested in attending one of the trips to Ensenada to volunteer in the Flying Sams’ dental clinic, but I was intimidated about not being picked to attend. However, I decided to sign-up for one the trips that took place at the end of June, and it was a decision that I was glad to have made. I was able volunteer as a chair-side assistant for the day. It was a great experience, and I cannot wait to do it again. It was such a rewarding opportunity to help these patients whom had gone years without seeing a dentist. They were truly grateful for the dental work and oral health instruction that we provided them.
The clinic was a lot smaller than I had originally expected since there is only one room where x-rays are done, the instruments are stored, and the patients are treated. When we initially arrived, we thought that it was going to be a slow clinic session because there were only a few patients in the waiting room. However, as the day progresses, more patients showed up, and the waiting room had families with children that came in for exams and cleanings. It was a long, productive day since we were able to see all nine patients, and we did not leave clinic till 6 p.m. Most of the procedures were cleanings, but we also extracted some baby teeth and did a composite filling. Many of the patients were scheduled to return the next clinic session to get their cavities filled.
Some of the procedures took longer than expected because the chair was needed for x-rays, so we had to wait to do seat patients for their treatment. In addition, many of the x-rays had to be retaken because we had difficulty developing them, which is why we had to schedule patients to return in order to get their caries filled. One of the most memorable parts of the trip was giving oral health instruction for the first time in Spanish. I have always been hesitant about using my Spanish in clinic because I am still learning dental terminology, but I was able to teach the patients how to properly brush and floss their teeth.