Volunteering for oral health in Tanzania

Taylor and Elise, two dental nurses about to embark on a volunteering trip to Tanzania, discuss the work they will be doing and the challenges they anticipate facing along the way.

Please introduce yourselves

We are two dental nurses, Taylor Kendall and Elise Smith, who work for Portman-Dentex at a practice called Beaufort Dental Care in Burton Upon Trent.

Taylor gained her qualification in 2019 and has since completed her radiography qualification, infection control courses and now has the role of compliance lead within the practice.

Elise has gained her nursing qualification this year and is hoping to start hygiene therapy at university this year too!

Tell us about your upcoming volunteering trip

In July this year we are completing a two-week volunteering trip to Tanzania, Da es Salaam, with a company called Work the World.

This involves a once-in-a-lifetime dental trip abroad in which we’ll get career-boosting clinical experience in an overseas hospital where we get to choose what kind of hospital or clinic we want to get experience in. Clinical experience of this kind is about gaining perspective and challenging what we know.

In Dar es Salaam, we will see that many Tanzanians suffer from oral health issues due to a of a lack of education around oral health. We will expect to see a lot of patients suffering from dental fluorosis too, and this is due to water contamination and diet.

We are also hoping to visit an orphanage while we are there and give them donations. In our spare time, we will have life-changing travel experience with the other healthcare students and graduates who we will be sharing our accommodation with.

What motivated you to volunteer?

Elise was having a review with our practice manager and discussing personal development. With her wanting to go to university, our manager suggested a volunteering trip that could maybe strengthen her application.

This then put the thought into Elise’s mind and she started to discuss it with Taylor. Taylor has always wanted to volunteer abroad and help the less fortunate, but has never done it as she was too nervous to go by herself.

This is when we then decided to go as a duo and experience it together!

What are you doing to raise money?

This trip is completely self-funded and we have set our target to raise £5,000 to help get us there and make it possible!

So far, we have completed a challenging hike called the Edale Skyline which was a 20-mile route around the Peak District. We had a few colleagues and friends to join us for support and we managed to complete this in 10 hours and raised £600 which set us off on a good start.

We then held a Christmas raffle at our practice which involved contacting businesses for prize donations and asking our friends and family to donate and prizes they had around their homes. We managed to raise roughly around £300 from this.

We currently have a donation pot at our practice in which patients can donate as they please, and we also have posters up around the practice advertising our trip.

On February 10 we held a charity fundraiser event at our local social club. Here we had an evening of entertainment, fun and games!

Throughout the rest of the time before our trip we will also be holding many more events such as bake sales, sports events, car boot sales and more fitness challenges. We are open to ideas!

What challenges do you anticipate during your trip?

I think we are going to face many challenges during our trip, mostly realising that we take our wealth for granted in the UK.

Over in Tanzania I think we will find it challenging to adapt to their working environment as we will have a lack of resources and will be using outdated equipment to what we already know. 

Poor oral hygiene (many children have severe decay) and lack of sterilisation procedures. We will also see major differences in the fundamentals of dentistry too. For example, there is almost no preventative dentistry.

Saving the tooth is a secondary concern as procedures are simply too expensive for most patients. We expect to find this very eye opening and emotional, but it will make us feel better that we are there to make a difference. 

We believe we will return to the UK with more empathy and awareness of dental struggles in third world countries.

What preventative measures do you hope to implement in Tanzania to help the oral health of the community?

  • Toothbrushing technique
  • Importance of fluoride
  • Interdental cleaning
  • Reducing sugar intake in diet
  • The importance of oral hygiene and cleaning techniques.

Click here to find out more or donate to Taylor and Elise’s volunteering trip.

Follow Dentistry.co.uk on Instagram to keep up with all the latest dental news and trends.

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar