ISSUE
     
International Partners in Health
Fourth Annual Mission to Nicaragua Addresses Soaring Caries Rates Among School Children
 






















The sweet aroma of fresh-baked pastries greeted the members of an NYUCD outreach team as they arrived in March 2009 at a school in Chiquilistagua, near Nicaragua's capital city of Managua, to set up a temporary clinic for their annual weeklong outreach mission. The 32-member team soon discovered that a bakery was located on the school grounds, and that children from the school spent their recess and lunch break consuming cookies and cakes, as well as candy from a nearby snack bar.

"It was a vivid illustration of the easy access that many Nicaraguan school children have to refined carbohydrates," said Ms. Rachel Hill, Program Administrator in the Office of International Affairs & Development, and the mission's coordinator, noting that the tooth decay rate among children at the school was 68 percent-among the highest rates in the world.

Dr. Aura Caldera, '08, an Instructor in Pediatric Dentistry and the mission's co-organizer, came to Nicaragua with a plan to combat the devastating effects of sugar consumption on children in Chiquilistagua, an impoverished town of 11,000 people and no dentist. She and her team provided 360 children with sealants and fluoride varnishes, and partnered with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health and the dental school at the Universidad Americana Managua to train their dental students to reapply the varnishes every three months for one year. The goal is to reduce the rate of tooth decay by one-half by the time NYUCD returns to Chiquilistagua in March 2010.

In addition to applying the sealants and varnishes, the NYUCD team screened and treated a total of 547 adults and children, providing extractions, restorations, and root canal therapy. Among the patients were children from a local special-needs school.

In addition to Dr. Caldera and Ms. Hill, the members of the outreach team included Dr. Stuart Hirsch, Associate Dean for International Affairs & Development; Dr. James Toppin, Clinical Assistant Professor of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology, Radiology, & Medicine; Dr. Todd Ross, Clinical Assistant Professor of Cariology & Comprehensive Care; Dr. Niven Tien, Teaching Fellow in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery; Dr. Prenard Mickens, Clinical Assistant Professor of Endodontics; Dr. Luis Cruz, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pediatric Dentistry; Mr. Isaiah Morse, a sterilization clerk; and Ms. Amanda Meissner, Program Administrator in the Office of International Affairs and Development.

Additional members of the team included Dr. Jared Frisbie-Teel, Advanced Education Program in Endodontics, '09; Dr. Adam Monroe, Advanced Education Program in Endodontics, '09; Dr. Sanjit Singh, Advanced Program in Endodontics for International Dentists, '09; Dr. Jennifer LaSasso, Advanced Education Program in Pediatric Dentistry, '09; Dr. Amy Honig, Advanced Education Program in Pediatric Dentistry, '10; Dr. Farrah Najib, Advanced Program in Pediatric Dentistry for International Dentists, '09; Dr. Natasha Yegorov, Advanced Program in Comprehensive Dentistry for International Dentists, '09; Dr. Ignacio Aliaga, Advanced Program in Comprehensive Dentistry for International Dentists, '09; Mr. Robert Block, '10; Mr. Michael Weisner, '10; Ms. Jenny Weng, '10; and the following students from the DDS Class of '09: Dr. Logan Banner, Dr. Aleksandr Baron, Dr. Manik Bedi, Dr. Mabel Coro, Dr. Christina Currie, Dr. Theodore Gialanella, Dr. Amy Isenberg, Dr. Pamee Shah, Dr. Jin Wang, Dr. Jessica Yeager, and Dr. Fan (Landon) Zhou.