Dental hygienist Anna Middleton is leaving behind her London clients for a short while in order to 'give something back' – by flying out to help patients out of dental pain in Uganda.
She is joining dental charity, Dentaid, to give talks and toothbrushing demonstrations as well as offer clinical care.
The bad news is that with fizzy drinks so readily available – and few people aware of the damage they cause teeth – there is a lot of work to do.
With no access or funds, patients travel far and wide to reach the clinics where the dental team delivers basic pain relief dentistry, fissure sealant treatments, fluoride applications and oral health education to both adults and children.
Anna says: 'Since qualifying as a dental hygienist, I have always wanted to use my skills in other parts of the world. I was inspired by my friend Pat Popat, who is a dental therapist, and travels to Uganda every year. After chatting to him about it, I was filled with excitement and thought what a better way to experience my first mission than with a friend and use our skills together to improve the dental health of others.
'I will be traveling to Uganda on my first ever dental mission with Dentaid in February. Dentaid supports an amazing team of Ugandan dental professionals all year round and I will be volunteering alongside them and our team to run outreach clinics in schools, churches, prisons, orphanages and remote communities.'
Anna sees 10-15 patients per day in the capital but, during her time in Uganda, that number will rise to between 120-200.
Last trip the total number of patients treated and left pain free over 12 days was 1505 and 992 people received oral health education.
Her two-week mercy mission will see her work with a team of 10 volunteers, including dentists, dental nurses, hygienists and therapists.
She says she is passionate about her work and wants to share her skills and help others with her knowledge and dedication to providing oral health care to anyone who may need it.
And what do her patients think?
Anna says: '"Wow!" is generally the first thing they say. Followed by, "well done! that’s amazing!”. Everyone has been so supportive and have praised my plans and given me reassurance and support.'
If you have any concerns about your own oral health, you can ask Anna – one of a panel of oral health experts – a question here.
If you want to help Anna meet the needs of patients in pain, you can donate to her cause here – https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/londonhygienist