Feed the Hungry San Miguel Dental Van Program Improves Health in Poor Rancho Communities

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, May 17, 2012 --(PR.com)-- Some say no pain no gain, but judging from the faces of the children Feed the Hungry San Miguel/Patronato Pro Niños (PPN) serves from its Dental Van program with visiting Mexico City dentist Dr. Gilberto Mendez Lecanda, these children have learned to grin and bear it. They are remarkably resilient to the pain of having a tooth pulled, filled or crowned. Maybe it’s because the Novocain hadn’t yet worn off or perhaps reality of how important this almost free healthcare service is to them kicks in.

Anyway its looked at, both the children and dentists who serve the kids are getting a lot out of the program. “For me,” claims Dr. Mendez, “it is an opportunity to get out of my dental office in Mexico City and use my profession to treat those in poor rancho communities. When I first started this program with Feed the Hungry two years ago, we only had the equipment to do cleanings, consultations and dental education. Now with the new dental van largely funded by one anonymous donor, I can do extractions, fillings and pulpotomy’s which are a partial root canal common in young children. My wife, Veronica, and I find it very gratifying volunteer work one Saturday a month. Our hope is to recruit other dentists in the area to donate their services on other weekends to help expand the program.”

On average Dr. Mendez will see 17 patients on a Saturday. During the normal weekday, there are two mobile dental offices both staffed by experienced licensed dentists and drivers employed by PPN who assists with registering children and their caretakers. On a typical day, 12 to 15 children are seen by each van. One van goes to ranchos where Feed the Hungry San Miguel has kitchen operations and the second proceeds as directed by PPN. Services include examinations, cleanings, fillings, extractions and instructions for oral health. If a child needs more advanced care, a referral is made to a specialist. Parents are asked to contribute 10 pesos toward their child’s dental care, but no child will be turned away for inability to pay. PPN’s experience has shown that parents who pay for part of the costs are more likely to encourage better dental health practices at home.

The new, fully equipped van is a pediatric dental office on wheels with everything from an automated chair, sterilizer, and supply cabinets, to overhead lighting, x-ray machine and air-conditioning. Mexican children in all the communities that FTHSM serves will be the first to receive care by the newest mobile dental office.

For dentists who wish to volunteer one Saturday a month or to learn more about Feed the Hungry SMA, visit us at www.feedthehungrysma.org. For information on PPN visit www.patronatoproninos.org
Feed the Hungry San Miguel
Valarie Brown Coon