By: Dr. Rutu Shah
University of Pacific
Enseñada, Mexico is best known as a cruise ship destination for travelers from around the world. What most tourists don’t see, however, is the other side of Enseñada. This side is the one locals experience everyday – it is more humble and simple. The fact of the matter is, much of the local population faces many socioeconomic barriers to accessing the healthcare they need – this holds especially true for dental care. That’s why UC San Diego’s Flying Samaritans and University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry’s students joined forces to provide aid to the underserved population of Enseñada.
The most recent mission trip to Enseñada took place in late January of 2019, where students from UCSD and UOP alike worked collaboratively to do procedures such as cleanings, fillings, extractions and root canals under the supervision of practicing general dentists and oral surgeons from UOP. Patients of all ages were triaged and treated, and given tips on how to improve their oral healthcare by adopting simple steps at home. In just 18 hours of clinic time, 140 procedures were completed.
Despite all the students’ diverse backgrounds, everyone finished the trip feeling humbled and so fortunate for the opportunity to see and treat each and every patient. Not only was it a great way to do hands-on dentistry for the students, but, more importantly, it was a way to alleviate the pain and suffering of so many local citizens of Enseñada who would otherwise not have had access to dental care.