Changing the World One Mouth at a Time

03 Apr

Changing the World One Mouth at a Time

An eight-year-old patient, Lalzirlian, about to get an infected tooth pulled by two dental students, is encouraged by his loving mother, Lalthansangi

Changing the World One Mouth at a Time

Equipping national missionaries to help relieve suffering

Dear Friends,

Most of us consider an aching tooth to be nothing more than an annoyance that we can take care of at the dentist in a day or two. But in impoverished villages located far from any such care, an infected tooth can become life threatening.

That’s why I was excited about the opportunity the Critical Medical Needs Ministry had this past fall to train national missionaries in Myanmar with basic skills in the identification and extraction of infected teeth. Two years ago we supported a similar training (both facilitated by fellow Heaven’s Family staff members Jeff Trotter and Lalchhuan Mawia, a Myanmar national… click here to read about the first training), and were thrilled with the results, so when God opened the door to do it again with more students, we were thankful to be able to help again—and several of you, our donors, generously contributed to this project.

Although the training lasted only a week, our American dentist team equipped the students with better skills and equipment than most of the formally trained dentists in that developing nation. This quality of training helps them gain greater confidence in themselves and credibility when they enter new villages to share their skills—and, hopefully, add to their effectiveness as witnesses for Christ among their patients.

Dozens were helped each day of hands-on training, as you can see in the photos below. (The patients you see here are very poor compared to Western standards, but those the dental students have gone on to serve live in very remote villages where the training patients would appear prosperous. Located in Myanmar’s Chin and Rakhine states, many of these faithful missionaries are reaching out to staunch Muslims and Buddhists.)

At left, this little girl wonders what she’s in for; at center, that period of uncomfortable waiting while the lidocaine did its work; at right, trying to put on a smile with a mouth stuffed with gauze and a numb lip

At left, our American dentist trainers conducted classroom instruction the first day and each morning afterwards; at center, students had to learn how to properly sterilize their instruments in a pressure cooker between patients, including the use of a timer; at right, some of the students, returning from their first training almost two years ago, not only received refresher and new skills training, but also helped to teach the new students (Thange, at right, had extracted almost 700 teeth since his initial training, so his experience and confidence proved very helpful)

At left, one mother comforts her child as his tooth is extracted; at center, a dental student prays over his young patient before work begins, a practice that all the students followed; at right, this little girl had an especially difficult time, so Dan, one of our American dentists, suited her up to make her feel better

“That wasn’t so bad!” Two young patients receiving comfort from their parents after treatment.

Although the two youngest children in these two photos didn’t get receive dental work, the rest are not quite sure what to make of the numb feeling in their mouths! In order to help distract the children from the scary experience (and make it easier for the dentists and students to work on them), Jeff made sure that all the kids received their own balloons made from surgical gloves.

And the blessing didn’t stop with happy patients (well, okay, most of the kids who were treated were decidedly not happy getting their teeth worked on, but they realized the blessing later!)—each of the newly trained dental students will be using their skills as a means of opening doors to sharing the gospel, resulting in eternal fruit for the kingdom of God. That’s a win-win blessing!


Laura Croft

Director, Critical Medical Needs Ministry

Dental students praying before traveling to another village to practice the skills they’ve learned

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